The Golden State Warriors are always praised because of their elite shooting, ball movement, spacing and unselfishness on the offensive end. While those offensive gifts have been the driving force behind Golden State becoming perennial title contenders the last 8 seasons, it’s the other end of the court where they also standout as a unit.
Led by former DPOY Draymond Green, the Dubs have long been a great defensive team during these dynasty years. The explosive offensive games of the “Splash Brothers” over the years have overshadowed an equally robust defensive culture.
Basketball Hall of Famer Grant Hill talked about that in his coverage of the NBA Finals for NBATV. The former Duke legend and newly cemented managing director of USA Men’s Basketball spoke candidly about their commitment on that end of the floor.
Just like that, The Golden State Warriors are one win away from being NBA Champions!
Despite a lackluster performance from Steph Curry, who finished with 16 points, The Warriors relied on their defense which forced 17 ‼️ Boston turnovers, leading them to victory.
Game 6 🔜 pic.twitter.com/NWZWMv27Ou
— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) June 14, 2022
“People don’t fully respect the defense of Golden State. We get seduced by their shooting and their offense and how it’s free-flowing, but their defense is one of the tops in the NBA,” Hill said.
“And this defense, they switch a lot. They have a lot of experience, they have active hands, they play the passing lanes and, so, they’re able to shrink the floor and really confuse them a little bit. That’s really been the key. When Boston values the basketball, they’ve won. When they don’t have good offensive execution and a lot of turnovers, then you struggle.”
Hill is correct. The Warriors have played defense at a high level during the entire Steve Kerr regime. In fact, prior to Draymond Green being injured in January, Golden State was the best defensive team in the league. Not the Boston Celtics.
The Warriors still finished second in total defense. A defense that’s carried over into the postseason and seems to get more formidable each playoff series. That’s the sign of a team who’s been here and done that and knows what it takes to win the ultimate prize.
Draymond Leads The Defensive Attack
Assistant coach Mike Brown (who’s been hired as the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings) is the defensive coordinator of the Warriors. He’ll be the first to tell you it starts with Draymond and his willingness to guard bigger players while providing toughness and grit. But Green has plenty of help from breakout star Andrew Wiggins on the defensive end.
The former No. 1 overall pick has been tasked with guarding the opponent’s best players each series. The last two series he’s been pitted against two reigning first team All-NBA selections in Mavs superstar Luka Doncic and Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum. He’s been up to the task.
Kevin Looney, Gary Payton II, and even Steph Curry have also been solid and savvy defenders. Even Klay Thompson has given us glimpses of the two-way star he was prior to those two catastrophic injuries which cost him 941 days off the hardwood. The Warriors defend as a team, and while they haven’t had rim protection all season with 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman out with a knee injury, it didn’t stop them from having their best defensive rating during their run. That tied the Celtics for best in the league.
Never Forget When LeBron Made Sure To Get Green Out Of Finals
The 2016 NBA Finals will always be talked about because the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead, becoming the first and only team in NBA history to do so in the Finals. But that probably wouldn’t have been possible without Green being suspended for Game 5. His suspension on the heels of reaching the technical foul limit changed the trajectory of the series.
Someone as savvy and guileful as LeBron knew his Cavaliers were shooting 14-for-58 (23 percent) in the series when guarded by Green. When Bron stepped over Green to instigate a confrontation and hopefully draw another technical, Green fell for the okey-doke, which led to the valuable point forward getting suspended. His absence changed the entire series.
BREAKING: Draymond Green has been suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/5HkCPw7YV3
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) June 12, 2016
The turn of events didn’t benefit Golden State, but Green’s defensive intensity was a clear indication of how good Golden State is with Green anchoring things.