Terry Stotts apologizes to reporter, admits Portland may change pick-and-roll defense
Terry Stotts was clearly frustrated after his underdog team was blown out by Steph Curry and Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Still, it was surprising to see the Portland Trail Blazers coach, one of the most affable and courteous interview subjects in the NBA, snap back at The Athletic’s Anthony Slater following Tuesday’s game for asking if Portland would change its pick-and-roll defense against Curry going forward.
Less than a day later, though, after his dismissively sarcastic post-game response went viral, Stotts went out of his way to express remorse to Slater, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Asked today about reconsidering their approach on pick-and-roll coverage on Steph Curry, Terry Stotts asked, “Is Anthony Slater here? I was going to apologize to him.” https://t.co/XkghpW9BXW
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 15, 2019
More importantly, Stotts admitted that it may be prudent for his team to switch up its coverage on Curry for the duration of this series, while acknowledging that it wasn’t ball-screen defense alone that killed the Blazers defensively in Game 1.
“He had 20 pick-and-roll and scored five times on them, but they were all threes,” he said, per MacMahon. “I think we have to re-think it, but we were down six going into the fourth quarter and Steph had one basket in the fourth quarter. They scored 39 in the fourth quarter with him scoring one basket in the pick-and-roll, so it goes beyond that, but yes, we have to revisit what we want to do on pick-and-rolls.”
One of the many why Golden State was considered an overwhelming favorite coming into this series, despite the absence of Kevin Durant for at least its first two games, is Portland’s longstanding preference to “drop” big men in pick-and-roll defense. That’s a recipe for disaster against a shooter of Curry’s caliber, and it played out that way on Tuesday, as he racked up 36 points and nine threes while facing little resistance on the perimeter.
Obviously, Stotts knows the Blazers need to tweak their scheme to better contain Curry going forward. Whether doing so will pay off remains to be seen.