NEW YORK • As good as the Golden State Warriors were in last season's National Basketball Association Finals, they are better now.
So how do you beat Stephen Curry - who has bumped LeBron James aside as the most dynamic player in the league - and his supporting cast?
How do you cope with a team who rank No. 1 in the league in offence, and a respectable No. 7 in defence, and use the three-pointer to simply overwhelm the opposition?
Said Pete Carril, former Princeton coach and Sacramento Kings assistant, who was known for slowing the pace in the college game: "The way I would want to play them is to work it so you took every shot with five or less seconds on the clock.
"You'd have to quit shooting fast, never off the first pass. I wouldn't even fast break on them.
"Of course, the fans don't want to see that.
"What did they say about watching my teams at Princeton? It was like going to the dentist.
"But I'm trying to win the game, so I want to try anything I can to get them out of their rhythm, limit their possessions as much as I can, put them to sleep."
For Richie Adubato, former head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and now a broadcaster for the Orlando Magic, stopping the Warriors' main man is the key.
"The normal decision with great, great players has always been to let him get his 40 and shut everyone else down, or go at the great player and make the other guys beat you," he said after suggesting that Curry "could be the best one of all before he's finished".
"In this case, because of how creative Curry is and how good (fellow guard Klay) Thompson, Draymond Green and the other guys are, it has to be a variety of things.
"Of course, they are not a one-man team, far from it, but it all begins with Curry. So my strategy is basically this: Trap him and post him. And... you've got to understand that he's not easily giving up his dribble, which means you have to work that much harder."
Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard with the Detroit Pistons, would focus on defence.
"If I'm playing against the Warriors, I'm not changing anything I do offensively," said the 54-year-old.
"What I'm saying is that you have to have five defenders playing their man, particularly guards who are willing to guard, keep Curry and Thompson in front of them. And don't lose them no matter how many passes they make."
Anthony Bozzella, women's coach at Seton Hall, who led the Big East Conference last season in defensive field-goal percentage, believes that how the teams defend Curry and Co. will change once the play-offs begin.
"Listen, I'm not an NBA coach, and they're the greatest coaches in the world but I just think switching on every screen allows him to have a mismatch so often in a game," he said.
"So if we're not switching and we're doubling him as often as possible, I'd want a quicker guard defending him. I don't want him going by us.
"I see everyone switching on him. I will also say NBA coaches are so smart, a lot of them don't want to tip their hand before the play-offs.
"Because I guarantee, during the play-offs, you'll see some different schemes.
"To beat them four times in a series, you're not switching on every ball screen.
"I would really crowd Thompson too. I don't want him making six or seven threes a game. He's a very good player but he will take some bad shots at times.
"He's such a volume shooter. You look at his percentage, and it's good. But that's because he'll make five in a row; he's streaky.
"But if you crowd him, he'll take some bad shots."
NEW YORK TIMES