Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward isn't playing in the playoffs right now, but that doesn't mean he's not studying them. He updated his personal blog here, and broke down the series here. It's great to have a player's perspective on what's going on to confirm and/or disprove our own ideas. Hayward starts:
This is a great matchup between two teams that like to shoot from the perimeter, and two players who spent the whole season dominating games for their respective teams in Stephen Curry and James Harden.
I'm interested to see how it plays out for each team — particularly how each team goes about defending the other's best player. There are multiple ways you can try to defend each of those guys, so it's going to be interesting to see what each team draws up, and how they make adjustments as the series goes on. It should be a very entertaining series.
First and foremost, you have to recognize that the Warriors have the league MVP on their team. Anybody that has Stephen Curry is going to be pretty good.
Obviously, Steph really has to play well for the Warriors to advance to the Finals. That kind of goes without saying, but to me, Steph playing well goes beyond just knocking down the open shots he's going to get. Shooters have off nights, but Steph is going to have the ball in his hands more than anyone else, whether his shot is falling or not. He has to get his teammates open looks as well. The Warriors are at their best when he's attacking and he's racking up 10-plus assists. It allows the other guys to get going.
There's only one or two guys on that team who can get their own shot, so they have to get their shots within their offense through ball movement. That usually stems from Steph because he gets a lot of respect from defenders, and they'll refuse to play off of him or help off of him very much at all. If he knocks down a couple shots early, the defense is going to respect him even more. That will allow him to drive and get other people involved. That's the key. Usually, when he does that well, the other guys feed off of it.
The same can be said for the Rockets with Harden. Houston spreads the floor really well, which gives him a lot of driving lanes, and he's just so good attacking downhill that you almost have to send two guys to stop him. When you do that, he finds the open man, and they have some knockdown shooters. I think they led the league in corner threes this year, so usually there's a guy spotted up in the corner. It's a pick-your-poison: You either help on Harden — and when you do, he finds the open man and they get the ball to that corner — or you just live with Harden getting to the basket, and taking those shots.
Hayward continues on for many, many words. READ IT NOW!
For the record, he has the Dubs taking it. Hard to argue with a man who knows the game as well as Gordon does.