Golden State Warriors – Defense, Not Stephen Curry, Makes Them the Best

Stephen Curry

The 107-76 win over the Washington Wizards is further proof that the Golden State Warriors are going places this season and not just because of Stephen Curry, but mostly because of their defense.

Curry led the team with 24 points, playing only 28 minutes and hitting five 3-pointers. However, his MVP candidacy is not the most important thing the Warriors have to offer as they continue to lead the Western conference by 7.5 games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, en route to securing home court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs including the finals.

Their defense held the Warriors to 76 points, including just 8 in the third quarter, with just one field goal. The Wizards shot just 33.3% from the field and 27.3% from beyond the arc. This wasn’t the usual case of the Warriors’ pressure forcing turnovers and generating easy points on the fast break. This was more of a grind (not a slow one), physical, obvious and cruel, choking out any glimmer of hope the Wizards had of staying in the game.

The Warriors grabbed 19 offensive rebound (five by Bogut, four by David Lee and Festus Ezeli each) and closed the driving lanes to the basket. John Wall and Bradley Beal were held to just 8-of-27 from the field, often forced to take contested jumpers, limiting the Wizards to just 27 field goals and 15 assists, as Wall couldn’t get the team going in the way that he’s used to.

The Warriors lead the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 97.4 points per 100 possessions. Their net rating of +12 is the best in the NBA as well by far (closest to them are the Clippers at 5.8). Teams shoot just 42.4% from the field against them (best in the league) and they force 16.6 turnovers per game, third best in the league. This helps them lead the league in fast break points, averaging 21 per game.

Yes, Curry might be putting up MVP numbers this season, averaging 23.3 points and 7.9 assists a night, but he is the vanguard on a deep team that can finish off teams on both ends of the floor. Andrew Bogut is a juggernaut that’s very difficult to score against, accompanied by the excellent Draymond Green who can guard all three frontcourt positions (and also airball free throws), the versatility of Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala on the perimeter and the helpful timing of Harrison Barnes and even Curry.

While some lineups create some sort of imbalance between offensive and defensive orientation, Kerr has enough players to balance it out and never neglect either part, both in the frontcourt and with his perimeter players. The Warriors have been a good defensive team for a number of years, but this season, the combination of the right additions, changes on the sidelines and in the rotation have turned this team into the best in the NBA, something the Warriors haven’t been in a very very long time.

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