The Golden State Warriors earned a reputation for defense over their five year dominance of the NBA, but this year is different. KD or no KD, it’s valid to question if this version of the champs can stop anyone anymore?
No one questions the ability of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to put up big numbers and Kevin Durant only makes the Warriors’ offense even more dangerous, but this year teams scored on Golden State during the regular season at a lofty 108.5 points per 100 possessions and during the playoffs that’s ballooned to 110.8.
Head coach Steve Kerr can moan about transition points given up and Draymond Green can say he has to play better defensively against Pascal Siakam, but this team has been easy to score on all season and throughout the playoffs.
Last year Golden State put a sub-par defensive regular season behind them to become the best defensive team in the postseason, holding opponents under 100 points 10 times in 21 games including a stretch of five in a row. This year, they’ve only managed to accomplish the task trice, and two of the under 100 point defensive efforts were against the depleted and over-matched Trail Blazers.
The last couple of trips to the NBA Finals were against a Cavaliers team that was playing a weak brand of defense equal to what the Warriors have been up to this year.
In contrast the Raptors have won with defense this postseason, holding teams under 100 points 11 times in 19 games including a stretch of six in a row. They can argue it’s really 12 times as the Bucks only scored 96 points before that game headed to overtime.
Is it any wonder Kerr keeps saying the Raptors are built a lot like his team? We all have a tendency to live in the past.
“They’re very long and athletic, they’re tough, they get after you and they play well together,” Kerr said. “They got a lot of versatility. I think they’re actually a lot like our team, they can switch and guard different positions and that sort of thing.
“We got to play better if we’re going to beat them.”
What the Dubs have to do is find their defensive moxie of last year and show everyone they can still stop teams from scoring.
photo credit Larry Millson