OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 25: Stephen Curry #30 high-fives Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during their game against the San Antonio Spurs at ORACLE Arena on January 25, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The entire NBA is looking for the answers on how stop Golden State.

To put it mildly, not many strategies have worked against the 44-4 Warriors this season. But that hasn’t stopped NBA teams from trying to find that optimal game plan in order to beat the seemingly invincible defending champions.

Having spent the previous five seasons with Golden State before an offseason trade to Boston, Celtics forward David Lee knows better than most about how the Warriors expect to be played, and how his new team tried to solve the league’s most vexing puzzle.

“I think a lot of teams, from what I’ve seen from when I was there, are going to attempt to trap Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] on ball screens and make somebody else beat them,” Lee told The Comeback. “And I feel like Golden State’s done a great job adjusting this year and Draymond’s become even more aggressive as teams decided to do that.”

Lee said that when Boston played the Warriors, they tried to limit Curry as much as possible. “And he still finds a way to get shots off.”


Lee’s Celtics hosted Golden State on Dec. 11 and held Curry to just 9-for-27 shooting from the field. With Thompson injured, Golden State needed double overtime to top the Celtics, 124-119.

“I thought we did a really good job and we had a real chance to win,” Lee said. “It’s just a matter of making Draymond beat you instead of Steph. He’s proven consistently that he’s able to make the right play in not just scoring but finding other guys.”

Curry still managed to score 38 points that night. Green shot 8-for-20 that day against Boston, but still had an absurd stat line of 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks.

Golden State center Andrew Bogut agreed with Lee, explaining that most teams try to double-team Curry when the Warriors set a ball screen, and that usually leaves Green open with many different offensive options at his disposal.

The Los Angeles Clippers, for example, are about stopping Curry at all costs. Like the Denver Nuggets did in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, the Clippers trap Curry as soon as he reaches half court, blitzing him with two defenders and forcing the ball out of his hands.

“That creates a four-on-three for us going towards the basket,” Bogut said, explaining that the plan to counter that high trap is to pass out of the double to Green, giving him a ton of options.

“If his man steps up, he throws a lob to me. If his man doesn’t step up, he’s got a layup,” Bogut said. “If someone helps from one of the 3-point shooters, that’s an open three [off the pass]. So we actually don’t mind that.”

If teams give too much effort trying to stop Curry, Green takes over.

The Knicks limited Curry to 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting on Sunday night, but Green had a triple-double and the Warriors still won 116-95.

“Draymond’s ability to drive and pass the ball and make plays, it makes them even more unique,” Cleveland Cavaliers reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova told The Comeback.

Green’s unique skill-set is a common concern players have when tasked with facing the Warriors. He can guard four positions, shoot the three at an excellent level and has emerged as one of the game’s best distributors at any position. Green is the first player to average at least 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists per game, while shooting at least 40 percent from three, since Larry Bird.

Through 48 games, Golden State has lost just four, and only two have come in games when Curry, Green and Thompson all played. One of those losses, the Dubs’ first of the season, game at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, the day after that double-overtime win in Boston. It was the final night of a seven-game, 13-day road trip and the Bucks tried something relatively unconventional, using their size to their advantage.

“We played through the post a lot,” Milwaukee star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo told The Comeback. “We were feeding Greg [Monroe] a lot in the post and we had a lot of options from inside to outside.”

Monroe shot 11-for-17 that night and help hold Golden State to 40.4 percent shooting from the floor. The Warriors shot just 6-of-27 from three and missed eight free throws, as the Bucks won, 108-95. Antentokounmpo said that the Bucks really tried to ramp up their intensity against the Warriors, and it may have worked for one night, but Bogut—who played just 22 minutes and had two points against the bigger Bucks lineup—suggested that physical play doesn’t really intimidate this team.

“We have so many good and smart players so that doesn’t work,” he said. “We’ve seen pretty much anything and everything.”

Teams that have tried to match Golden State’s smaller, faster lineups have usually been burned pretty badly by that strategy.

“Our versatility and being able to go from big to small has been really good for us,” Warriors center Festus Ezeli told The Comeback.

NBA scouts are at every game to see if they can spot any little detail, any weakness, their team can take advantage of when they face Golden State. Despite the effort made to find something that can stymie the Warriors, Bogut hasn’t seen anything teams have consistently tried in an effort to exploit a certain weakness.

“We’re 44-4,” Bogut said. “Not to sound arrogant, but there hasn’t been a whole lot.”

There are a few Western Conference teams, however, that have a unique approach in how they match up against the champs. For the San Antonio Spurs, it’s actually what they don’t do that makes them different.

“When you think about San Antonio, you think about going with two bigs and they stuck to their game plan,” Ezeli said. “Every team tries to match us and go small and they don’t, which is why they’re so good. They do what they do. They try to perfect that so that everybody has to adjust to them.”

The one time the Warriors and Spurs played this season, the Spurs were without Tim Duncan. That didn’t go so well.

It hasn’t gone so well for the entire league, really. Whatever teams are trying to do against the Warriors, it’s not working.

“I think it’s a constant adjustment process,” Lee said of his former team’s success. “Teams play them a different way and they see through that.”

Golden State’s next game is Wednesday in Washington. If the Wizards can come up with way to beat this Warriors team, more power to them. The other 28 teams will be watching, waiting for their chance to prevent the NBA’s next budding dynasty on its way to a historic season.

About Shlomo Sprung

Shlomo Sprung is a writer and columnist for Awful Announcing. He's also a senior contributor at Forbes and writes at FanSided, SI Knicks, YES Network and other publications.. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, Business Insider, Sporting News and Major League Baseball. You should follow him on Twitter.