During Game 2 of the NBA Finals, NBA viewers got to watch a defensive scheme that is rarely seen outside of middle school basketball games, much less the best basketball league in the world. The Toronto Raptors unleashed a box-and-one defense against the Golden State Warriors in order to slow down superstar Stephen Curry. In a postgame interview , Curry expressed surprise and appreciation of how much the Raptors did to shut him down, per Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:
“Did you see that defense they were playing? I mean, I’m flattered. Thank you.”
The box-and-one defense is designed to have one defender follow his mark wherever he goes. In the Raptors case, Fred VanVleet drew the assignment of tailing Curry. Whenever Curry would touch the ball, VanVleet and the closest Raptor would double Curry and try to force a turnover.
The defensive switch is a testament to how dangerous a player Curry is. By using the box-and-one, the Raptors basically made sure that if any Warrior was going to beat them on the floor, it wasn't going to be Curry.
While the plan worked excellently during the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, it backfired at the most important time. Andre Iguodala was left wide open and hit a dagger of a 3-pointer to seal the game.
Now, Nurse has a decision to make. Will he bring out the box-and-one to start Game 3? Or will he abandon it now that the Warriors have seen it and have had time to prepare for it? It could depend on the statuses of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, as this defense likely wouldn't work if all that talent is out there at the same time.
We'll get a chance to see on Wednesday as the series moves back to Oakland tied at one apiece.