Can Spurs, Joseph slow Curry?

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
10:40
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesStephen Curry set the NBA record with 272 3-pointers this season, and has kept it up in the playoffs.
The only California team left in the NBA playoffs is the Golden State Warriors, who take on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. Game 1 is scheduled for tonight at 9:30 Eastern.

Defending the Alamo City
The Warriors are looking to win in San Antonio for the first time since February 1997. That was four months before the Spurs selected Tim Duncan with the first pick in the NBA draft.

Since then, the Spurs have won 29 straight home games against the Warriors. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s tied for the second-longest regular-season home winning streak against a single opponent.

The deck is stacked against the Warriors tonight. Also from Elias, the only team to win a road playoff game over a team it hadn’t beaten on the road in at least 15 years was the Detroit Pistons over the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1990 NBA Finals.

Curry Continues Breakout Season
If the Warriors are able to break through and win in San Antonio, it will likely be due to the play of Stephen Curry.

Curry was great in the regular season, setting the NBA record with 272 3-pointers, but has been even better in the playoffs.

Thanks to Elias, we know that he is just the fourth player in NBA history to average 24 points and nine assists in the first six postseason games of his career. The others are Oscar Robertson, Kevin Johnson and Tim Hardaway.

He’s also kept up his torrid pace from behind the arc. He hit 23 3-pointers against the Denver Nuggets in the first round. That’s more than any other player in his first six career playoff games.

Can the Spurs Slow Curry?
Curry averaged 26 points in three games against the Spurs this season, including 35 in the Warriors’ win in their most recent meeting. But the Spurs might have the pieces in place to slow him down.

Cory Joseph averaged 14 minutes per game this season, but averaged over 24 minutes in two games against the Warriors down the stretch. Joseph was the most effective defender the Spurs had against Curry this season, holding him to 43 percent shooting and 1-for-6 from 3-point range.

Whoever defends Curry will have to fight through plenty of screens. In the first round, more than 40 percent of Curry's jump shots were set up by a screen.

During the regular season, Curry averaged nine contested shots per game and five open shots per game. In the first six playoffs games, half of his shots –- over seven per game –- have been uncontested.

Bogut Is X-Factor for Warriors
After David Lee’s injury in the first game of the playoffs, Andrew Bogut has stepped up for the Warriors.

He has upped his scoring average from 5.8 points per game in the regular season to 8.2 in the playoffs. His rebounding total has increased from 7.7 to 10.3 per game, with most of the increase coming on the offensive glass.

Bogut has also lifted the Warriors on the defensive end. The most-used lineup for the Warriors in the first round was Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Curry, Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson.

This group played 76 minutes together in six games and had an offensive efficiency of 111.8 and defensive efficiency of 96.3. For the series, the Warriors had an offensive efficiency of 107.7 and defensive efficiency of 102.4.

Alvin Anol, John McTigue, Justin Page and Rachel Stern contributed to this post.

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