Toronto Raptors: 3 adjustments for Game 3 of 2019 NBA Finals

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images /
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Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images /

2. Continue mixing in box-and-one defense

One of the main talking points from Game 2 was Nick Nurse installing a box-and-one zone defense midway through the fourth quarter. A box-and-one defense means four players are playing zone while one defender chases around a single player on the opposing offense. In this scenario, it was Stephen Curry.

Nurse said he utilized this defense because they were “having trouble getting their defense set up, having trouble at the basket a little bit,” as well as trying to change the rhythm of the game. This in-game innovation worked wonders as the Warriors made one basket when this defense was used halfway through the fourth quarter.

Steve Kerr and the Warriors were optimistic they’d be more prepared for this wrinkle, and they undoubtedly will have counters for it, but it doesn’t mean Toronto should go away from it for long stretches of the game.

Golden State doesn’t have great shooting outside of Curry, Klay and Quinn Cook. A zone defense is used to protect the paint via blocking cutting and passing lanes, and force teams into taking outside shots. When a team like Golden State staggers Steph’s and Klay’s minutes, a box-and-one is a great way to keep the one shooter at bay while clogging areas everywhere else.

If Klay plays, don’t expect much of the box-and-one while he shares the floor with Curry. But if Klay is out or when he’s off the floor, forcing everyone but Curry to beat you and slowing the rhythm down — something the Warriors rely so heavily on — is the best way to attempt to contain them.

Another adjustment that fits into this page is limiting the massive Golden State run, such as the 18-0 one that started the second half. Scoring points obviously helps, but avoiding those mental lapses defensively and mixing up defenses is not the worst way to avoid that from happening.

Either way, Nick Nurse has shown the ability to think outside the box, and, as Stephen Curry said, use a “janky defense” to throw the Warriors off their rhythm. Even if they’re prepared for it this time around, it was effective for a reason and is a great way to clog the paint while not giving Curry any room.