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Bucks’ Steph Curry strategy backfires in best way for Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t the first time the Milwaukee Bucks had seen Klay Thompson this season, but it was the first time they had seen this version of Klay for a long time.

“You know, obviously we haven’t seen him in a while because of his injury,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said Saturday night after the Warriors beat his Bucks, 122-109 at Chase Center. , you know.”

The five-time NBA All-Star reminded the Bucks and everyone else in the league how great he is and how rushed he can be. Thompson scored just four points in the first quarter and missed his two 3-point attempts The second quarter was a whole new ball game.

Vintage Klay showed up on a Saturday night in San Francisco, giving local fans every reason to get louder and louder with every 3-pointer that splashed the home net.

Thompson had 17 points in the second quarter. He had five straight shots to open the quarter, including four straight 3-pointers, went 5-for-6 from deep and the only shot he missed was a running jumper. This gave him 21 points. The Warriors entered the night with a perfect score of 6-0 when Thompson scored at least 20 points this season.

They are now 7-0 when he reaches that figure since completing his comeback.

“Once Klay gets hot, there’s really not much you can do,” Bucks star defensive end Jrue Holiday said.

Klay wasn’t finished once he went to the locker room at halftime. He came out and scored 17 more points in the second half, giving him 38 points for the night. It gave him a new season high and his most points since scoring. 39 on March 8, 2019.

Of course, the Bucks hadn’t expected Klay to burn them all over the field. As Giannis pointed out, maybe they didn’t emphasize this Splash Brother enough. Thompson had just 11 points in a 19-point loss last time out. the Warriors played the Bucks and averaged just 15.3 points while shooting 34.2% from the field and 23.3% from 3-point range in their last four games, after a two-game absence for an undisclosed illness.

In fact, coach Mike Budenholzer laid out the Bucks’ defensive plan an hour and a half before the whistleblower. Part of it worked, with the rest blowing up in his face.

“We’re no different, we’re going to throw the kitchen sink at him and everything we’ve got,” Budenholzer said when asked about Steph Curry’s defense.

Well, Curry only scored eight points, a season low. It was only the second time he had been held to single digits this season, and his eight points were his fewest since scoring just seven on April 4, 2019 and then five on April 9. of this 2018-19 season.

Steph also delivered eight assists, grabbed five rebounds and had a plus-14 differential. His scoring impact was understated, there’s no doubt, but the Bucks were protecting him from the face and putting all their eggs in a basket that only kept Curry at three buckets. opened the floor to his teammates.

And they stepped up.

Thompson wasn’t alone there either.

Steve Kerr pitched Jordan Poole with Curry and Thompson for the first time this season, and Poole did what he’s done since the Warriors’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month: the 22-year-old scored 30 points, his seventh 30-point performance of the season and second in his last four games, and was a plus-26 differential. He has now scored at least 20 points in six straight games and is averaging 23 points per game in March.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable that the league MVP kind of sacrifices some of his shots, and getting the other players to play against a really good team is huge,” Poole said of Curry. “It shows how dangerous we are.

“It’s going to be really tough trying to stop Steph. We’re just going to play against him and keep playing our game, and hopefully that works out.”

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For the Warriors, in their third straight win, it certainly worked out, not only because Poole was a splash brother, but also because Andrew Wiggins had his best game in over a month and Jonathan Kuminga continues to be a spark on the bench. .

Kuminga recorded the second double-double of his rookie year, scoring 14 points to go with a career-high 11 rebounds. An aggressive Wiggins scored 21 points while going 8 for 16 from the field and 3 for 8 from long distance , to go with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. His big night was a relief for everyone involved with the Warriors, especially Wiggins himself.

It was his first 20-point performance since Jan. 31, and he also made both of his free throw attempts after entering the game 2-for-9 from the charity stripe this month, including six consecutive misses.

The quartet of Thompson, Poole, Wiggins and Kuminga combined for 103 of the Warriors’ 122 points and shot 52.8% (38 for 72) from the field – while Steph scored just eight points.

“Man, this team is dangerous,” Wiggins said. “We’ve got a lot of guys, a lot of guns that can come out and do a lot of good things.”

Budenholzer and the Bucks aren’t the first team to “throw the kitchen sink” at Curry and they won’t be the last. If the rest of the Warriors cool off, the strategy will pay off. But Saturday night showed how great Golden State can be when teams leave the rest of the Warriors open.

Just imagine when they are at full strength, soon it can finally become a reality for the Warriors.

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