When Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off Thursday night Oakland, George Hill will likely start out on Stephen Curry. But over the course of the series, he won’t be the only one chasing Curry around, trying to prevent him from ending the Cavs.
“Multiple guys are going to be guarding Steph,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said on a conference call with the media Tuesday. “He’s a tough player, he’s going to take a lot of shots, he’s going to get shots, he’s going to make some tough shots, we understand that. But we want to be physical, staying with him, being alert and taking away those easy baskets.”
Lue also laid out some of the many areas Curry could get loose against the Cavs, and stressed the importance of not letting him get easy looks.
“Like losing him in transition, or we turn our heads and he moves and gets a three wide-open, or an offensive rebound, he moves, we don’t lock in to him,” he said. “Those are the ones we want to take away. We know he’s going to score because he’s going to get a lot of shots and he’s going to make some tough shots. We just gotta make sure we take away the easy ones.”
Aside from Hill, Cleveland could slide J.R. Smith into Curry and perhaps LeBron James could spend time on him. If things get really, really, really weird, Lue has used rookie Cedi Osman to defend point guards, including Kyrie Irving. But Osman isn’t currently in the Cavs’ rotation and it’s unlikely he’ll be inserted into it on the biggest stage.
On the bench, it gets a little bit trickier for Lue. Jordan Clarkson isn’t a good option, nor is Kyle Korver. So, without an Iman Shumpert-type waiting in the wings, it seems like the job of tracking Curry will come down to Hill and Smith primarily.