Monday night is game one of the Western Conference Finals. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for. The defending champion Golden State Warriors, take on the #1 seed, Houston Rockets. If we’re lucky it will be a titanic series and go the distance. Both teams have tremendous firepower and boast either past or presumptive MVPs. What makes both teams so dangerous is the ability to score a lot of buckets in a short amount of time, courtesy of the three ball. The Rockets lead the NBA in three-pointers and were second in offensive efficiency behind the Warriors. We will likely see a historic amount of threes taken and made in this series. But, the Warriors have the edge in that category as they boast the greatest shooter of all-time, in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, two players that routinely shoot the three at 40%. KD knows there is something different about a Steph three, and when he pulls up from super deep, there is a reason for it, saying, “He’s trying to end you. That’s what killers do.”
In a recent feature story by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, KD talks about the mentality the Warriors have and why team’s fear that three-minute spurt the Warriors are famous for that can evaporate a lead and push them in front by high double digits. KD continued:
You’ve got guys that are just simmering. Steph is simmering when he don’t got the ball. Klay is simmering. Everybody is just simmering.
Durant is referring to the Dubs pass-happy offense and how much energy the ball has when it’s in motion and guys are giddy to touch it and feed one another. It’s like a pot on the stove water, bubbling and waiting to boil over when it hits that magical 100-degrees mark. That’s the fear every team (maybe except the Rockets) have when facing the Dubs.
Then, according to head coach Steve Kerr, there is a moment in the game, where Steph senses a team is on the ropes, and he knows instinctively a 30 foot three, will bury them. Like another great sharpshooter of a different era. Kerr said:
But back in the day, Bird would purposely shoot 3s in those situations because he sensed that same fear of the opponent and he’d go for the jugular, and that’s what Steph does.
Again, the Rockets may be the only team equipped not to wilt during an onslaught of threes from the Warriors. Still, there is something different about a deep Steph 3, it’s almost as though it’s worth an extra point psychologically. Durant summed it up best, saying:
If he pulls up for a deep 3, that’s him saying, ‘All right, I’m trying to get this s— over with. He’s trying to knock you out. He’s trying to end you. That’s what killers do. That’s what mentally strong people do — like psychopaths. Steph wants to stab you in the heart.
Game 1 is rapidly approaching, no doubt the Rockets are keenly aware of the challenge they face from the Warriors. They hope, their offense represents the best the Warriors have seen in their historic run over the past few years. We don’t know how it’ll play out, but we do know it will be largely based off of the ability to make and defend threes.