STOPPING STEPH CURRY
Is prayer an option? We didn't have any success against him this year, and we tried everything. A common strategy is to use length. A taller defender who can stay with Curry can at least contest some of his shots. Iman Shumpert is a little overrated as a defender—he has not been the same since his ACL injury [in April 2012]—but he's big, long and athletic. Expect Cleveland to give Shumpert first crack at defending Curry.
You have to be physical with him too. Pressure him up the court, bump him in the lane. Knock him down once or twice when he goes to the basket. He's considerably stronger than when he came into the league, but you can still bully him a little bit.
The best strategy to defend Curry is to make him work on the other end. This is why Kyrie Irving is so critical. Curry is a decent defender, but you can beat him off the dribble. If Irving is hurt and the Cavs play Matthew Dellevadova big minutes, Curry is going to destroy them. Hell, he probably will anyway. He's that good.
X-FACTOR: DRAYMOND GREEN
To me, Green is this series' most important player. He has two challenges: Stay with LeBron on the perimeter and fight with [power forward] Tristan Thompson in the paint. There's no question Green will get time on LeBron. He's the best match physically, even if he gives up quickness. [Green is 6'7", 230 pounds; James is 6'8" and listed at 250.] I wouldn't be surprised if Steve Kerr tries Green on LeBron one-on-one, no help, and see what he does. LeBron has been posting up a lot. Golden State will take that. If Green can bang with Zach Randolph, he can bang with LeBron.
Green is one of the most competitive guys in the league; he loves this stuff. Since Kevin Love went down, the Cavs have become a much more physical team. They just beat up Atlanta. Thompson doesn't do anything special, but he is relentless on the glass. Green has to win those battles in the paint. He's undersized for a four, but he's so active. He has great hands and instincts. He gave Randolph fits. If Green plays well, Golden State is going to cruise.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED