For the 35 minutes that Stephen Curry was on the floor in Game 1 on Monday, the Houston Rockets targeted him defensively on nearly ever possession. Typically this manifested in Curry’s man setting a high screen for James Harden, leading to Curry being forced to switch onto the likely MVP. Harden had his way with Curry in these situations, scoring the lion’s share of his 41 points with Curry guarding him.
But Harden’s isolation scoring proved to be the only consistant source of offense for the Rockets on Monday, who were ultimately overwhelmed by the swarming defense and relentless offense of the Warriors. Despite the Rockets’ ability to exploit the mismatch, the Warriors still won the game by double-digits, 119-106.
Afterwards, Curry seemed comfortable with the Rockets’ strategy to target him.
“If that’s the game plan they want to stick with, my job is just to make it as tough as possible,” said Curry, who had 18 points. “You’ve got two great scorers over there in (Chris Paul) and James. You know how they get shots off in isolation-type situations, and they’re tough to stop. So I’m going to get scored on; they’re going to get scored on. There’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth.
“But as long as we — I should say as long as I’m in the right spot at the right time and defend and just try to make it as tough as possible, I can be all right with that and just have that competitiveness that we need.”
Though he dropped 41 on 14-24 shooting, Harden was -7 in his 35 minutes on the floor. Curry was +5 in 35 minutes of his own.