Who would’ve thought that a team that lost two of their top defenders could still lock-down defensively? Losing Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes was a huge loss for the Golden State Warriors but they’ve seemed to manage very well thus far this season.
Looking at this past week, the Warriors battled some of the most talented teams in the league including the defending champions. They went up against the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets, and also the Orlando Magic. Through this span of games, Golden State managed to win all of their match-ups while making their presence felt on defense.
Statistically, the numbers rang loud proving their defensive dominance. With a defensive rating of 94.3 which ranked #1, they held their opponents to an effective field-goal percentage of 45.8 which was also ranked #1. One component that contributed to such a high defensive rating was their ability to defend the three. It’s only right that a team that shoots the three so well can also defend the three tremendously well, right? Well in these last four games, teams struggled shooting outside against the Warriors. Their opponents averaged 24.8% while they shot 43.7% from downtown. These differentials heavily impacted these past four games. Their offensive rating topped all teams at 116.7 which concluded a net rating of 22.4.
Golden State’s newest member Kevin Durant has become their defensive anchor in the paint. Despite being listed at 6’9, many people believe he’s 7 feet tall. Kevin’s size and long stretch of arms has become a huge factor in the Warriors defensive scheme. While Kevin can keep up with most players out on the perimeter due to his great athleticism, his length gives him the ability to play the role of rim stopper in the paint. He has the highest block average of his career with 1.7 blocks per game and he also averaged 2.5 blocks in these previous 4 games. Defense is not the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Durant but he’s made a conscious effort this season to get the job done on that side of the ball.
Another thing that can’t be lost is how well they defended some of the best players in the NBA. Going up against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, they managed to keep each of them below their season point average. James and Irving were held to a combined 37 points on 32.4% from the field. Westbrook was able to score 27 points but it came at an inefficient 35% from the field. And they were also able to keep Harden to only 17 points while keeping him and Eric Gordon (the league leader in 3-pointers made) at 0-12 from behind the arc. Although some wondered how they would make up for their losses with Barnes and Bogut gone, the Golden State Warriors have shown that they can still be dominant defensively.