August 12, 2022

BOSTON — After three NBA titles, after two MVP awards, after more than $250 million in career earnings, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has heard yet another variation of the same criticism: You are a bad defender.

Never mind that it has steadily improved at this end of the floor over the past few years. To prove how far he’s come from his hidden days on complementary shooters away from the action, Curry had to make life difficult on the top performing wings in the biggest moments.

Two games into those Finals, he didn’t just do that — he proved to be one of the Warriors’ most important defenders. Curry’s basketball IQ, quick hands and extra volume make it a tricky game every time the Celtics attack him in pick-and-roll, which presents quite a conundrum: who Boston can exploit defensively. when Jordan Poole is on the bench?

The playoffs are about eliminating any tactical advantage. Since the Warriors accelerated the rise of quick-change defenses eight years ago, offenses across the league have increasingly countered by chasing mismatches.