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CJ McCollum Comments on Warriors Setting Illegal Screens, Guarding Klay Thompson

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2016

Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) is defended by Portland Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum (3) during the second half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Golden State won 118-106. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum waded into the discussion regarding the perception surrounding the Golden State Warriors' use of illegal screens. 

"They set a lot of illegal screens," McCollum said Tuesday, per Jason Quick of CSNNW.com. "They are moving and stuff. That's the respect you get when you are champions, you get a lot more respect from the referees. You have to figure out a way to get around those screens and make it difficult."

He's hardly the first to voice the criticism that the Warriors are using less than legal means to get their shooters open looks, but Fox Sports' Andrew Lynch drew attention to the NBA rule book to explain that the issue isn't as straightforward as it may seem. Lynch noted the rules allow a player to move in the same direction as his opponent when making a screen after having already gotten set for a legal screen.

He wrote how that wording allows for a gray area during games: "It's a convoluted rule, to be sure, much like the NFL's catch rule. It's also one which NBA officials are drilled on throughout the season. They're not just ignoring something across the league for the sake of ignoring it. Instead, this is about NBA players becoming smarter and pushing the limits of what's allowed."

ESPN's Amin Elhassan doesn't think the Warriors are the only team that tests the boundaries for what is and isn't an illegal screen:

Chillin in my Bacta @DarthAmin

I'm surprised the Moving Screens Truthers never appear during any non-Warriors games. Big Al with the lean wit it/rock wit it high pick

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Warriors power forward Draymond Green also made a strong case for why Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry both magnify how effective Golden State's constant screening is, thus drawing more scrutiny, via ESPN's Ethan Strauss:

Ethan Strauss @SherwoodStrauss

Draymond on moving screen accusations: "Everybody else in the NBA sets the same screens we set. They just don't got the shooters we got."

Ethan Strauss @SherwoodStrauss

Draymond: "I set screens just like anybody else. My guys get open shots cuz they got 2 of the quickest releases in the NBA."

McCollum has the unenviable task of shadowing Thompson in the second round, and he discussed how he thought he defended the Warriors 2-guard in Portland's 118-106 Game 1 defeat on Sunday, per Quick:

Overall, I did a decent job. I felt like all his shots were contested—they weren't all well contested—but he was guarded on all of his shots. But I felt like he was too comfortable. He did whatever he wanted to do. I have to be there on the catch and make him do some different things.

Thompson scored 37 points on 14-of-28 shooting, including 7-of-14 from three-point range. The more successful he is, the better chance Golden State has of advancing despite Curry still missing as a result of a sprained right knee.

If the Blazers have any hope of knocking out the defending champions, McCollum and his teammates will have to limit Thompson's effectiveness much more than they did in Game 1.

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