It’s time to stop complaining about the Toronto Raptors box-and-1 defense

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors used a box-and-1 to stop Steph Curry during the NBA Finals. It’s time to stop complaining about it.

“Just Win Baby,” the motto which Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders made popular, represents the true essence of sports. It doesn’t matter how; the goal is to win the game. During the NBA Finals, Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors employed the strategy which maximized their odds at doing just that.

With Kevin Durant out — due to what was first a calf and then an Achilles injury (or perhaps an Achilles the whole time) —  the Golden State Warriors were light, or at least extremely top-heavy, on shooting. When Klay Thompson left the game, whether it was due to rest or due to injury, Golden State ran out lineups with the three-point capabilities of a team in the early 2000s. It was Stephen Curry, Quinn Cook, and that’s about it.

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Nick Nurse, like any good coach, looked for ways to exploit the Warriors lack of shooting. However, unlike most coaches, Nurse used unconventional means (yes, I see the outside the box pun, and no I won’t make it). Rather than just sagging heavily off non-shooters, he employed a box-and-1.

The box-and-1, headlined by Fred VanVleet, completely stifled Golden State. Curry wasn’t able to break the defense individually, and the Warriors were forced to rely on Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and the rest of the Warriors to shoot from the perimeter. Playing against Golden State, that should always be the goal.

Curry, clearly bothered by the defense, called it “janky” and “disrespectful.”

"“Over the course of the game, it’s kind of disrespectful to leave Andre Iguodala open like that with the game on the line."

Now, three months later, Curry seems to be complaining about (or at least commenting on) the defense once again.

The idea that a defensive scheme is disrespectful to the game of basketball is pretty insane. Are the Bucks disrespectful for sagging into the paint? Are the Rockets disrespectful for shooting too many 3s? Please forgive me if I’m not privy to what is and is not acceptable anymore.

Besides, if Steph is truly worried about folks “respecting the game,” perhaps he could stop Draymond Green from roundhousing opposing player’s beanbags, he could ask his wife to stop claiming that the entire league is “rigged,” or he could even stop turning the ball over via behind the back passes during the last five minutes of the NBA Finals.

In all seriousness, the defense is the ultimate sign of respect towards Curry. He’s so good the Raptors decided to use a defense which the NBA hasn’t been seen in decades. It’s not his fault that the other Warriors couldn’t make an open basket.

Next. Why the Raptors should be built like the Oakland A's. dark

But it’s not the Raptors fault either. Toronto used a strategy which best maximized their chances of winning. That’s not disrespecting the game; it’s what the game is all about.