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sport / / BANG: The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it real?

o BANG: The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it real?Allen

BANG: The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it real?


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG: The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2024 20:15:13 -0700
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 by: Allen - Mon, 1 Apr 2024 03:15 UTC

The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it real?
Warriors held each opponent under 100 points over 3-game win streak
>Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) looks for an open teammate past
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and guard Klay
Thompson, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game,
Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: March 31, 2024 at 5:45 a.m. | UPDATED: March 31, 2024 at 8:48

In each of their past three games, the Warriors have held their
opponents to under 100 points.

Golden State’s three-game win streak has come with opposing point totals
of 92, 93, and 97. The last time their defense limited three straight
teams below the century mark was the 2021-22 season, when they won the

“We’re talking a little bit more,” Chris Paul said after Golden State’s
win in Charlotte. “Starting to get in the right spots. I think we’re
showing what we’re capable of when we defend.”

Over the last three games, Golden State ranks second in the league in
defensive rating (100.3). But the Warriors probably didn’t suddenly just
snap into championship-level defense. Golden State has made some strides
over the small sample, but has also benefited from a soft pocket in its
schedule and shooting luck.

To see what’s real and what’s not with how the Warriors are clicking
defensively, look under the hood.

Take, for instance, the teams Golden State handled. The Heat were not
only missing their top two scorers in Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, but
were also missing Kevin Love, Josh Richardson, and Duncan Robinson. They
had 74.6 points per game sidelined.

Against the Warriors, the Heat shot just 24.2% from 3. Terry Rozier and
Jaime Jacquez Jr., shooting 32% and 31% from 3, respectively, went a
combined 2-for-10 from 3. Miami just didn’t have enough shooting.

Then the Warriors shocked Orlando without Jonathan Kuminga and with
Draymond Green getting ejected 3:36 into the game. The Warriors are
certainly not a better defensive team without Green and Kuminga —
arguably their best athlete — but nonetheless locked up the Magic.

Golden State’s defensive performance that game had just as much to do
with Orlando simply going ice cold, though. The Magic, who rank 23rd in
offensive rating this season, generated better shots than the Warriors
but shot only 42.4% overall.

For much of the year, it has seemed like the Warriors have been unlucky
with their opponents’ shooting. Bit players like Santi Aldama, Isaiah
Joe and Harrison Barnes have lit them up.

But against the Magic, the Warriors got lucky from Orlando missing open
shots. Per PBP Stats, Orlando’s 48.2% effective field goal percentage
was well below the 54% they were expected to register based on a shot
quality model that accounts for play-by-play data.

Orlando misses lightly contested layups and practice-gym 3s. The Magic
is far from an offensive juggernaut, and had a rough night even by its

[2 pics]

Teams have come out of the gates especially cold against the Warriors
this week. One game after Magic shot 3-for-22 in the first quarter,
Charlotte opened 6-for-19.

The Hornets also shot worse than the PBP stats model predicted it would,
with a 47.6% effective field goal percentage compared to their .52 shot
quality score.

The Warriors had Green back for that game, though, and there were
glimpses of true progress defensively. Green and Trayce Jackson-Davis
started together and shared the court for over 20 minutes. In minutes
the two centers logged together, the Warriors recorded five blocks and
five steals.

In 117 minutes together this year, the Green-and-Jackson-Davis pairing
has registered a 98.4 defensive rating — the best for any regular
Warriors duo. For reference, Minnesota leads the league with a 108.1
defensive rating.

“Being able to be beside him and take the load off of him a little bit,
I feel like we interchange pretty well,” Jackson-Davis said.

If the Warriors can surround the two bigs with enough shooting to
regularly score, the big combination has a real chance to be a
sustainable force. In a season destined for the play-in, that’s a
significant development.

“I like the Draymond-Trayce combination,” Steve Kerr said. “Having
Trayce as a shot-blocker, he had three of them tonight, with Draymond
kind of playing middle linebacker back there. That’s a good combination.
It’s a different look for us, but it’s been effective.”

That lineup duo isn’t the only tangible sign of progress from this week.
Kerr praised Andrew Wiggins for his on-ball intensity, and increased
minutes from the always-active Gary Payton II has helped. It’s not just
a soft pocket of the schedule and shooting luck.

The Warriors also limited the Heat, Hornets and Magic to 10 or fewer
points in transition. After a brutal loss to Indiana last week in which
the Pacers ran the Warriors out of their own gym, hustling back in
transition has been a major point of emphasis.

Kerr has been preaching how important every player’s first three steps
are when a possession changes. The Warriors need to sprint back through
the middle and then fan out to shooters. Communicating is crucial to
avoid confusion in cross-matches.

The Warriors are a quiet team, which has often been the root of
defensive breakdowns. Getting Kevon Looney back into the fold — along
with Green — should help on that front.

If the Warriors can continue the defensive production they displayed
this week, the surging Houston Rockets would be much less of a concern.
Golden State has the sixth easiest remaining schedule, but a slew of
difficult opponents await after Sunday’s matchup in San Antonio to
finish a five-game road trip.

After the Spurs game, the Warriors are set to play the Mavericks twice
and the Rockets. That — not the depleted Heat, offensively challenged
Magic, and lowly Hornets — will be the test.

sport / / BANG: The Warriors played championship-level defense this week. Is it real?


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