Warriors hope to see Klay but no more box-and-ones
10:01 PM
Art Spander

  OAKLAND—You play to win the game. Herman Edwards told us that in a rant.

   He’s now coaching Arizona State, but back then, 2002 to be exact, he was coaching the New York Jets. The game was football. The idea is the same in every sport: You play to win.

 If you need to use two men to cover Jerry Rice. If you have to walk Barry Bonds with the bases loaded. If you are forced to play an old-fashioned, high school defense against Steph Curry.

  If it’s legal, and you think it will work, well, who cares whether it’s unusual or if Curry described the tactic as “janky”?  Although his response is understood.

  Teams don’t employ the box-and-one defense in the NBA, where four defenders basically guard the four guys who can’t score and the fifth shadows the one who can score.

  In Game 2 of the finals, that would be Curry..

The Dubs were without Kevin Durant.  And because Klay Thompson  incurred a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter, without Klay. Two-fifths of the Hampton Five—both offensive threats, one Splash Brother, one  magnificent ball handler-shooter--were missing from the lineup down the stretch.

They did hang on for a 109-104 win over the Raptors at Toronto to even the best-of-seven league finals at a win apiece. Game 3 is Wednesday night at Oracle, and whether you’ll see Klay—“I’m very encouraged I’ll be able to go out there,” Thompson said—the probability is you won’t see that vexing box-and-one from Toronto.

   “It was very effective,” conceded Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “The key with the zone or any ‘janky’ defense for that matter, it just changes the rhythm. Watching the tape we had open looks we didn’t knock down, and so the rhythm changed.”

 And the lead was reduced, The Raptors were playing to win the game, and Kerr was not at all surprised.

  “In the ninth grade a team played (a box-and one) against me, remembered Kerr. Whether that was when he attended school in Lebanon where his father was a university president or Palisades High in West Los Angeles was not important.

 Kerr could shoot from the outside, and if not quite as spectacularly as Curry, was a starter at the University of Arizona and a sub on the Chicago Bulls teams of Michael Jordan.

  “It’s typically something you can’t rely on for big, long stretches of the game,” said Kerr. “It’s probably something you’ll see more of in high school, even college. But I don’t remember ever seeing it in the NBA.”

  He’ll remember now. So will Curry.

  As far as the term, janky, Steph said it’s a “little Southern, North Carolina slang that I just pulled out of my back pocket. It just sounds right. I don’t really know what the true definition is.”

   How about “poor or of unreliable quality,” which is one way it’s defined.

“But obviously it was innovative and unexpected in terns (of a) defense you haven’t seen for a while. But there are things we could have done differently to get the ball in my hands working around other guys.”

   Curry scored 23, two points fewer than Thompson, but none of those 23 came in final quarter when the Raptors closed from 11 to 2 before losing by 5 after Andre Iguodala hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play.

  Iguodala, underestimated but not unappreciated, said he’s motivated by an inspiration to protect the legacy of a Warriors team trying to win its fourth NBA title in five seasons.

  Asked his perspective, Curry, a two-time league MVP, said, “I don’t need anybody’s validation or praise to hype me up as other people in the league know who I am.

   “I always stay confident in my abilities and appreciative of the stage that I get to play on alongside my teammates who understand, one, what it takes to win and just the fun we have playing the way we do.”

  Unless, out of nowhere, they’re facing a box-and-one

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