The Golden State Warriors’ defense has seemed non-existent in its last few games. Teams have attacked the Warriors and put up points with very little resistance against a team that is supposed to be one of the stoutest in the league statistically.
In recent contests against the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder (both were defeats), the Dubs opened up the gates and allowed their opponents to convert a staggering 56.1 percent of their field goals. What’s more, the opposition averaged 48 points in the paint in those two contests.
With Golden State recently throwing out the red carpet for opponents, an Eastern Conference scout relayed his thoughts on the Dubs’ defense to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
When we play Golden State, we’re not worried about scoring. The focus of the game plan is taking away their 3-point shot. When the playoffs come, I think the Warriors will be just like Houston. Good show, fun to watch, great excitement … but I don’t see them getting past the second round. I know the stats say otherwise, but they haven’t changed their spots completely.
This assessment certainly has some merit. The Warriors are capable of great defensive focus, but the coaching staff has its instances where it emphasizes offense at the expense of stopping opponents.
This has resulted in small lineups that struggle in stopping teams and allow people to get to the basket without much consequence. Andrew Bogut has spent a lot of time in the fourth quarters on the bench, while his teammates got exposed out on the floor.
The Warriors finally got back to their identity in a win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Mark Jackson fed the Aussie some fourth-quarter minutes and he rewarded the trust by swatting away three shots as Golden State held Nawlins to 26.3 percent shooting in the final period.
Unless you count Aminu as a big, Bogut played against a small lineup and was critical on defense down the stretch
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 19, 2014
For the game, the Pelicans only converted 38.6 percent of their shots. Granted, one might be tempted to offer the oversimplification that simply inserting Bogut into the game is sufficient to alter the team’s fortunes, but there is clearly more to it. Andre Iguodala shared as much with ESN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz:
“We lost the scout,” Iguodala said.
By losing “the scout,” Iguodala meant that the Warriors were forgetting to factor what they knew about their opponents when hunkering down to defend.
“A scout is: This guy likes to go right, so don’t let him get to his right hand,” Iguodala explained. “Ty Lawson got to his right hand a lot that game. [Evan] Fournier got left. [Randy] Foye got right. Wilson Chandler got right a bunch. Once they got their rhythm, they got their rhythm.”
If the Warriors are serious about contending for a title, they will have to consistently bring the intensity and attention to detail on the defensive end. They accomplished this against New Orleans, but that is hardly enough.
Golden State must consistently “turn to their scout” and force opponents to execute their offense on every possession. That might very well be the difference between a first-round exit and a berth in the Western Conference finals.
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