Originally posted on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 5/8/13
The matchup of the game for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals will be between San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. In Game 1, Curry went off on the Spurs scoring 44 points on 18-35 FG shooting (6-14 in 3-point shooting) and was the main reason Golden State had a 16 point lead late in the game that later disappeared. Stephen Curry seemed to make every shot he threw up, even the impossible ones that he made look routine. It didn't matter if Danny Green or Tony Parker defended him, he kept his confidence throughout the game and carried the Warriors on his back. This changed dramatically when Gregg Popovich sent his best defender, Kawhi Leonard, on him for the latter part of the game and it showed. Leonard's physical gifts bothered Curry and look for that to happen again, especially if the Warriors' point guard gets hot from the field again. What Leonard must do on offense: He'll likely won't get guarded by Curry on this end, but Leonard's offensive game will play a huge part in his defense. If Leonard can successfully hit jumpers and rest his legs throughout offensive possessions, that'll leave more energy for the defensive end. Kawhi has used screens to get open and has been able to hit the occasional mid range jumper off the dribble. With San Antonio using pick and roll attacks, he'll likely get open looks if Tony Parker can get in the lane and forcing Golden State to send help in the paint. Kawhi shot 7-11 FG for 18 points along with a clutch 3-point shot that helped the Spurs come back in regulation to force it to overtime. What Leonard must do on defense: Curry prefers to move around screens when a taller defender is on him. Leonard's foot speed will play a huge part in this, especially going over the screen. With a 7'3" wingspan, Leonard is going to have him a hard time in getting a clean shot off. It'll be rare if Curry tries to take Leonard off the dribble, since he'll be running into paint help with Kawhi in the back defending. This matchup gives the Spurs a huge advantage in that the Golden State point guard will likely not get any rest if he tries to keep in motion or handling the ball with the pressure Leonard will bring. His quick feet, long wingspan, and height will change Curry's shot and shot selection, especially when Leonard elevates to contest. Leonard may probably not shut him down completely, but giving him harder shots and making Curry use more energy than usual will play a large part if the Spurs want to win this game.
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