Programming note: Clippers-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
OAKLAND – There was a moment last season when Clippers coach Doc Rivers fired a subtle blast of buckshot at the Warriors. It was unclear whether his target was then-coach Mark Jackson and guard Stephen Curry – or both.
In the minutes prior to a Warriors-Clippers game in Los Angeles, Rivers was praising his point guard, Chris Paul, and the coach concluded by saying "we don't hide Chris" on defense and that Paul always guards the opposing point guard.
This was Rivers noting that, under Jackson, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry usually did not guard the league's more dynamic point guards. Rivers didn't elaborate. He didn't need to.
Well, Rivers' observation no longer is accurate. When Steve Kerr took over as Warriors coach, he made a point of saying he was going to give Curry the opportunity to defend the opposing point guard, no matter who it was.
On Wednesday night, with the Clippers coming into Oracle Arena, that will be Paul. It's a departure from the past, as Jackson generally assigned Klay Thompson to defend Paul.
"We'll probably mix it up on Chris, but Steph will have some chances at him for sure," Kerr said. "The way he's played, I would feel very comfortable with that."
Curry so far has done a commendable job defending Darren Collison (Kings), Jeremy Lin (Lakers) and Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers). But Paul is a different kind of lion. He is widely considered the league's best point guard, and he's playing well.
It's a challenge Curry welcomes.
"Yeah, because if he plays well it's on me – and vice versa," Curry said Wednesday morning. "I've got to be locked in, focused and ready to do my job as a part of the game plan of the defense.
"Obviously it's not a purely one-on-one battle, but there are things I can do that I have to focus on to try to win my matchup."
Curry credits new assistant coach Ron Adams with improving his stirring his defensive mentality. The two men watch film together, with Adams raising Curry's standard, imploring him to do more while explaining how his defense affects that of the entire team.
"It doesn’t matter how many points I score, he seems to find that one or two things that I can do better on the defensive end," Curry said. "After every game, that kind of knocks (me) back into reality a little bit, just to know you can always get better. And I have to be to be a championship-caliber point guard and for us to get where want to go."
The biggest test of the season comes Wednesday night in the second week of the schedule. Come to think of it, there might not be a bigger test at all.