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Breaking Down Stephen Curry-Tony Parker Matchup in Spurs-Warriors Playoff Series

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Breaking Down Stephen Curry-Tony Parker Matchup in Spurs-Warriors Playoff Series
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As we move into the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, few postseason series are garnering as much attention as the showdown between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. The two offensive powerhouses are closely matched, but no storyline is quite as compelling as the point guard play.

2007 NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker will take on the league's leader in three-point field goals, Stephen Curry, in hopes of leading their respective teams to the 2013 Western Conference finals.

Parker is up to his usual heroics, leading the Spurs to victories in games that are often decided before the fourth quarter rolls around. For those who want to debate that truth, the Spurs led the Los Angeles Lakers by an average of 16.5 points entering the fourth quarter during the first round.

They swept L.A. by an average margin of 18.8 points per game. Even still, Parker topped 20 points in three of those four contests.

Curry, meanwhile, is rapidly developing into one of the brightest stars in the world. Not only has he perfected the art of the three-point shot, but Curry's ball-handling and facilitating abilities have been at a world-class level thus far in the postseason.

In turn, the Warriors completed an unbelievable upset of the Denver Nuggets. The question is, who truly has the edge this postseason?

Is it Curry's marvelous statistics? Or Parker's three-quarter-victories?

Let's take a closer look.

 

2013 NBA Playoff Comparison

Photo courtesy of Chip3130.net / @Chip3130. Statistics provided by NBA.com.

Stephen Curry and Tony Parker entered the 2013 NBA playoffs as two of the most underappreciated stars in the league. From Parker's misleading statistics to Curry's reputation as nothing more than a shooter, we'd heard every argument to claim that these two men were just shy of the elite.

What's your case now?

Parker dismantled the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 22.3 points and 6.5 assists on 49.3 percent shooting from the field. He did so in just 31.8 minutes of action and topped 20 points in three of those four games.

That includes a Game 3 performance in which Parker went for 20 points and seven assists on 9-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes of action.

As for Curry, he may have been the MVP of the first round, averaging 24.3 points, 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals on 44.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He made all 21 of his free-throw attempts and subsequently led the Warriors to an unthinkable upset of the Denver Nuggets.

That includes Game 2, where Curry tallied 30 points and 13 assists en route to Denver's first home loss since Jan. 18—who thinks these two aren't ready?

 

The Experience Factor

More times than not, a player making his first career postseason appearance will crack under the pressure. Whether he's forcing up shots or becoming gun shy, there's something about the playoffs that inspires a mix of fear and overwhelming pressure.

Stephen Curry hasn't felt any of that since Game 1.

Curry struggled early in the opener, shooting 7-of-20 from the field, but still managed to tally 19 points and nine assists. Since that game, Curry is averaging 25.4 points and 9.4 assists on 45.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The postseason butterflies appear to be gone.

As for Parker, he's a three-time NBA champion and the 2007 Finals MVP. Even as he fails to generate the respect he deserves, Parker has been a consummate professional as he leaves it all on the court every time out.

For a player averaging 19.0 points in 156 postseason games, it's fair to assume that Parker has seen stars before and walked away victorious. Can Curry bring him down?

 

Playing Styles

The comparisons drawn between Stephen Curry and Tony Parker are few and far between in terms of playing style. With that being said, Curry and Parker both share the uncanny ability to penetrate the lane and net a gorgeous floater.

The difference is that Parker's mid-range J is equally as brilliant as Curry's three-point shooting.

During the regular season, Parker shot 52.2 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from mid-range. By comparison, Curry shot 41.1 percent from mid-range but finished significantly higher than Parker with the three-ball.

The question, of course, is which player will be able to step up when it matters the most?

Statistically speaking, Curry has the edge, as he's proven to be the creator of all offense for the Warriors thus far. In that same breath, Parker has been the catalyst for the San Antonio Spurs' elite offensive production for years on hand.

Even if his distributing numbers don't say it, Parker would be amongst the league's leaders if the hockey assist were recorded.

Parker will attack the basket and enter the lane, finishing over or around the Warriors' interior defenders. Curry will do the same, putting up major scoring numbers due to his versatility as a scorer.

These two players are not as different as they seem, folks. The major difference is how far they step back to kill the opposition with their jumper.

So who will do the most damage?

 

Advantage

Stephen Curry is on an absolute tear, putting up superstar numbers and guiding the Golden State Warriors to an improbable postseason run. He's shooting the lights out, facilitating at a high level and making unbelievable plays at every turn.

We've seen this story before.

Tony Parker enters this series with the positional advantage, as his experience plays the key role here. He's a three-time NBA champion and a former Finals MVP, which isn't a sole result of the quality players he performs alongside.

It's a testament to how far Parker has come during his time in the NBA.

During the 2012 NBA playoffs, he contained Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Parker held CP3 to 39 percent shooting when he was on the floor and thus created a +/- of positive-16.2 per 48 minutes in favor of San Antonio.

When Parker came off and Paul was still active, that number changed to positive-26.0 in favor of L.A. (via NBA.com).

Curry will not be a fish out of water here, as he'll take it to Parker and likely outproduce him. When it comes down to the key plays, however, Gregg Popovich is a coaching mastermind who will draw up schematics that the sharpshooter has never seen before.

Expect Parker to execute to perfection.

In that same breath, Curry is a legitimate superstar, and if the first round told us anything, it's that he can do anything. That includes take down the almighty Spurs, as he and his cast of sharpshooters prepares for another upset.

Just don't think he's the only one who can close out a game.

For those number junkies out there, try this: during clutch situations, Parker posted a slash line of .471/.500/.806 (via NBA.com). If it comes down to the wire, Curry isn't the only one who can step up and make the big play.

Parker holds the advantage here, but let's be real—this is going to be an incredible point guard battle.

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