GSW Defense: A shade better than Jeffersonian

The Warriors can rise above .500 even if they cede easy lay-ups, open jumpers, and alley-oops. Of course, they need to flaunt efficient offense, and they must own the glass like Walter White. The Jazz game was an aberration, a near-hoax. I don’t expect a Lee-Biedrins defensive front to hold the fort–much less touch its brick exterior. But I do expect this tandem to rebound and rebound well.

Our conversational patterns are often divided into three acts, or as linguists call them, “plays.”

The Pre-Play

(Hey, what’s up! How are the kids?)

The Play

(Um, soooo….you’re fired)

The Post-Play

(Hey, sorry about that. Well, I’m late for a meeting…gotta go!)

I’d say a defensive possession is analogous:

The Pre-Play
(The Warriors chase the flexing Jazz, as Deron Williams probes closing spaces)

The Play
(Ellis contests as Williams shoots a step-back)

The Post-Play
(Andris Biedrins snatches the miss)

If the Post Play is a Jefferson tip-in, we’re having a different conversation about this pattern: We’re talking points. As for my overarching point, it’s: Rebounding is an under-appreciated aspect of a defensive possession. Fans value glass work, but we rarely think of it as existing in the realm of point prevention. In real conversation, the Post-Play is inconsequential–in the defensive sequence, it can make all the difference.

Mention “defense,” and I conjure the mid-2000’s Spurs. Visions of Duncan’s bunny-hop blocks flood my eye’s mind. Popovich’s disciples didn’t gamble, didn’t bend, and would rather have licked a branding iron than relinquish open corner threes. I spy Ginobili flying in front of a would be slasher, cutting opportunities off at the hips. They were specialists in stopping a good shot, and doing so in ways the Warriors can’t mirror.

But Golden State can stem the bleeding through prevention of second shot opportunities. Of course, the Dubs will play the kind of defense that makes such opportunities few and far between. But, that’s an improvement from the days of Corey Maggette playing power backward forward. This year, the defensive rebound is GSW’s mitigating factor and its salvation. The Leedrins monster won’t protect the rim, but it will eat what the rim rejects.

Another aspect of Warriors defense is theft. I call it the Jean Valjean approach: Golden State must steal to live, and live with consequences. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are combining for 6.87 fouls per contest. Even adjusted for pace, this is a high mark for a backcourt. It’s a predictable result from a necessary evil: If the Dubs reach for steals, refs will reach for whistles. And the Warriors need to reach–penetration blurs past Lee, post-strength bludgeons Biedrins. Credit to Dorell Wright with his smart gambles and credit to Monta Ellis for producing seven swipes. So far, theft has been another mitigating defensive factor. Much has been made about how the Warriors have out rebounded opponents in all but one game–they’ve done the same in the steals department.

I’ll post interview quotes from the players some time this weekend. Hey, sorry they aren’t posted yet. Well, I’m late for a meeting…gotta go!

Twitter: @SherwoodStrauss