O’Boyle: How to beat the unbeatable
Daniel O'Boyle | Monday, December 7, 2015
At 10 games, it was a special start.
At 16, it was record-breaking.
Now with 22 wins to begin the 2015-16 NBA regular season, the Golden State Warriors’ start is something else entirely.
Maybe some people will tell you that the Warriors won’t go 82-0 this year. That in today’s NBA, a team just can’t win every single game in a season. But really, can any team right now stop Golden State?
Maybe, just maybe, someone at some point this season will knock off Stephen Curry and co., but what will it take to do it? Few teams so far have even come close, with many games this year already decided by the end of the third quarter. And when they don’t control a game from start to finish, they can still come from behind and earn the win, as shown against the Clippers twice this year.
So exactly what is it a team needs if it wants to beat Golden State? It takes a lot of talent and a lot of luck, but these five things couldn’t hurt either:
Beat them with small ball
The Warriors’ small-ball lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green at center — known ominously as the “death lineup” — has completely dominated opponents this year. So could another team match the Warriors’ unit with perfect personnel who have spent two years perfecting the “five smalls” system? Probably not, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. You’re going to have to keep pace with the Warriors from three-point range to beat them, but under normal circumstances that isn’t easy. So what if the ball were roughly the size of a baseball when you’re shooting? Tampering with the balls is a tried method in the NFL with a record that speaks for itself, so why not try it in the NBA? Surely it would be significantly easier to get it into the hoop from the perimeter. Of course, you’ll have to stop the Warriors from taking advantage of the new ball when they have it, so all you’ll have to do is switch the ball out without anyone noticing and give Warriors a regulation-sized ball so underinflated that it’s basically just a blob of rubber.
Limit Curry to his worst shots
If you’re going to stop Golden State, you’re obviously going to have to stop its best player. Steph Curry is easily the best shooter — and the best player — in the league. Despite leading the league in three-point attempts, he’s sinking nearly half of them and is on course for over 400 threes this year, shattering his own record. Under pretty much every situation, Curry’s shooting percentage is incredible. Except one. From half-court and beyond this year, Curry is 0-for-2 shooting. That’s pretty pedestrian. Give me or DeAndre Jordan two halfcourt shots, and on a good day we might be able to match Curry’s season average. So what does this mean for the Warriors’ opponents? Well, all you have to do is make sure Curry never gets a shot within halfcourt. Try building a large wall to stop him, or offering him $50 to stay back.
Utilize Brock Lesnar
The Pro Wrestling star, ex-UFC fighter and former-NFL practice squad member ended the greatest streak of all time when he defeated The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX. If anyone knows how to end a streak, it’s him. Is he good at basketball? I don’t really know, but the fact is he’s got experience in breaking streaks. Alternatively, Brock Osweiler defeated the Patriots to hand them their first loss of the season, so maybe the key is being named Brock? Brock Motum played for the Jazz during the Summer League and currently plays in Lithuania — is he the answer?
Keep the Warriors starters on the bench
The Warriors’ starters’ stats, especially Curry’s, have taken a big hit in the fourth quarter several times this year. Was it because they were all sitting out because of blowout wins? Yes. But what if you could convince them to sit out every quarter? What if you could make a game appear to be an obvious blowout before it even started? It’s the classic long-con. In a strategy I call the “76ers approach,” a team just has to play poorly for multiple seasons before eventually delivering the performance of a lifetime against the Warriors back-ups in a relatively meaningless game. If it executes the strategy to perfection, Philadelphia could lose by as little as 30 or 40 points.
Score 136 or more points:
Golden State has yet to eclipse 135 points this year. If you can score 136, a win might be within reach.