Stephen Curry Hopes Rockets Make Him Switch, Guard James Harden or Chris Paul

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 20: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors defends against Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets during the game between the two teams on January 20, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is not a shutdown defender by any means, but the two-time NBA MVP is not afraid of a challenge.

With a showdown against the Houston Rockets on tap in the Western Conference Finals, Curry expects his opponent to try to exploit certain matchups—namely, finding ways to get Curry to try to guard James Harden and Chris Paul on the defensive end.

Don't expect Curry to shy away from the one-on-one situations. He told reporters Friday, via The Athletic's Anthony Slater, that he will try to do his job to the best of his ability:

Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater

Steph Curry knows the Rockets are going to drag him into switches to isolate him defensively guarding Harden/Paul. He understands the strategy. "I hope it's every single play." https://t.co/0nJ9YhM9p4

There aren't many players in the league who can slow down either Harden or Paul, who have 15 All-Star selections between them. The goal is to stay in front of them, get a hand up and make them earn every point.

Harden is the favorite for NBA MVP after leading the NBA in scoring at 30.4 points per game, shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three-point range. Paul ranked 28th with 18.6 points per game on 48 percent shooting and 38 percent from downtown.

Of course, forcing Curry to guard Harden could have severe ramifications on the series. The Rockets star loves to seek contact on shots, going to the line 10 times per contest during the regular season. Getting Curry into foul trouble early and often would help Houston slow down Golden State's high-powered offense.

While Curry receives criticism for his defense, he does rank second in defensive win shares this postseason. He did miss the opening round and Game 1 of the second round, though, after being sidelined with an MCL sprain. 

It's important to note that this series is not expected to be a defensive battle. Golden State (113.5 points per game) and Houston (112.4) were the top two offenses in the league during the regular season, and both teams have averaged more than 109 points per game this postseason.

Curry and the rest of the Warriors will have their work cut out for them trying to defend Harden, Paul and the Rockets. However, if they are unable to put a clamp on them, they at least have the offensive firepower to keep up. Golden State will just have to hope Curry's knee holds up and that he can stay out of foul trouble while playing defense.

Game 1 tips off in Houston at 9 p.m. ET.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.