The Golden State Warriors aren’t soon forgetting their 2019 NBA Finals loss against the Toronto Raptors.
Up 1-0 in this year’s Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors have their hands full against one of the league’s top players in Luka Doncic.
And at least in Game 1, they were doing it with a favourite defensive scheme of Raptors coach Nick Nurse: the box-and-one.
“You can’t do the same thing with Doncic every possession,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game, per Insider.com’s Scott Davis. “You have to be able to mix it up. He’s too good, and so we tried to do some of that.”
The name of the box-and-one comes from players playing zone defence and the fifth playing man-on-man coverage on the team’s best offensive threat. In the Raptors’ case, the defence was notably used by Fred VanVleet on Steph Curry during the Finals. At the time, Curry called it “janky.”
Last night, Doncic ended the night with 20 points on 6-18, shooting in a 112-87 blowout win for the Warriors.
Kerr still has praise for Nurse, shouting him out prior to the team’s meeting earlier this season.
“The way this league works, we all sort of steal from each other,” Kerr said when asked by Daily Hive about his thoughts about Nurse’s coaching style back in December. “I think Nick has been very influential in this league. The way the Raptors play defence, the way they search for deflections and the way they think about passing lanes mentally. They clearly have an identity and a style, and that kind of comes directly from a great coach.”
Asked Warriors coach Steve Kerr about what he’s picked up from Nick Nurse in their matchups over the years.
Here’s his answer on Nurse’s influence throughout the league: pic.twitter.com/7UF2nXyztK
— Adam Laskaris (@adam_la2karis) December 18, 2021
“Everybody knows about the box and one,” Kerr added.
Whether he learned about the defence from Nurse or not is unclear, but the Warriors definitely haven’t forgotten their battles against the Raptors.
Curry even wore a “box and one” hoodie back in September 2019 as a seeming tribute to Nurse.
Steph Curry has a box and one hoodie with “respect the game” labeled underneath.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 17, 2019
Who knows, maybe we’ll even have a Finals rematch in 2023. Keep your eye out for that box-and-one.