OAKLAND – The Warriors defense is displeased enough with the offense that if this were football there would be a considerable amount of blame between the units.
Inasmuch as the Warriors play basketball, though, blame is shared within a single unit. Each man has to check himself for allowing the offense put undue stress on the defense.
At the core of the issue are turnovers committed on offense, which compromises the defense.
“It’s suffering because of our offense,” Draymond Green said of the defense. “When you turn the ball over as much as we’ve been turning the ball over, you can’t get the defense set. When you can’t get the defense set, you’re fouling to stop the break. All of a sudden, you’re in the penalty early. All of a sudden, they’re at the free throw line.”
Informed of Green’s comments, Klay Thompson nodded his head.
“That’s very true,” he said. “On top of that, we need to get to the free throw line more because when we do get to the free throw line we’re allowed to set up our defense. When we set up our D in the half-court, we’re the hardest team to score on in the league.”
That is what coach Steve Kerr is trying to emphasize. Teams are shooting 43.6 percent (tied for fifth) against the Warriors this season, after 42.8 (first) last season. They are allowing 104.4 points per game (22nd) this season, after allowing 99.9 per game (14th) last season.
The goal, Kerr says, is to get back to that level.
“We have to have a collective mindset of just making the simple play and being sharp defensively,” Kerr said. “We’ve gotten away from it.”
It may seem odd to finger the offense, given the metrics. The Warriors are No. 1 in points scored, No. 1 with room to spare in 3-point shooting percentage and No. 2 in overall field-goal percentage.
They are, by most statistics, the best offense in the NBA.
But then there are those moments when they get careless, which leads to sloppiness. It hurts them on offense and it demoralizes, if not disintegrates, the defense.
“We relax too much,” Thompson said. “Just in these past few games, past couple weeks, we relax too much because we know how good we are. It’s not that we just turn it on at any moment, but it’s like, if we stay within the game we’ll eventually break free.
“We can’t have that mindset because we’re trying to build great habits for the playoffs. Steve keeps telling us we’ve only got 20 games left, that we’ve got to start tonight and getting it right and focusing on every possession.”
Yes, even a team with a 56-6 record – best in NBA history through 62 games – has its holes. As impressive as the Warriors have been, they seem to understand they won’t be evaluated on what they do before the postseason.
“It’s not about regular season wins,” Steph Curry said. “That’s important and that’s what we need to do along the way of this journey to get to where we’re going. But we’re trying to put another banner up. I’m pretty sure that if we play the way we did the last three or four games, we’re probably not going to get there.”