The Golden State Warriors, after losing 134-124 to the LA Clippers on Tuesday night, hold a 29-29 record heading into the All-Star break. They have struggled to look like the defending champions who went 42-17 at the same point last season.
Everyone knows that the Warriors have been uncharacteristically playing average defense, something Draymond Green addressed in a postgame interview:
"I don’t think it’s a championship hangover. It’s the will to want to defend. You’re not hungover at .500, 60 games into the season. ... It’s the will to defend, stop and guard your man, and sink and help and try to box and rotate. … That’s all will and we don’t have that as a team.
"If nobody brings anything on that side of the ball and don’t even bring effort there, you could put Steph Curry or Kevin Durant there or anybody else on offense and no one does the extra things, then it doesn’t work.
"You have to do it collectively. That’s a huge responsibility that falls on my shoulders and I haven’t got us there.
"It’s now or never. We’re at .500 at the break, middle-of-the-pack team with those middle-of-the-pack stats."
Led by Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors' defense has been one of the best in the NBA over the past decade. They have been one of the best in the league in that department in each of the seasons they won the championship.
The Bay Area team ranked first, second, 11th and second in defensive rating during their championship years. They were 11th during the 2017-18 season, but they had Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the "Death Lineup" overwhelming opponents on offense.
Draymond Green knows the Golden State Warriors don’t have the luxury of a dominating offense to carry them when their defense continues to fail them. The Warriors are 12th in offensive rating this season but are bound to pick it up as soon as Steph Curry returns from a leg injury and the others regain their form.
It doesn’t look as positive on the defensive end, particularly on the road, which is why the “now or never” call by Green sounds ominous.
Steve Kerr echoed Draymond Green’s sentiments about the Golden State Warriors' urgent need to step up on defense
Steve Kerr has always insisted since he was hired that defense has always been the Golden State Warriors’ unsung hero. They have had two, if not three, of the most electrifying shooters the NBA has ever seen.
Golden State’s success, however, has always been baked into its defense. Kerr knows that his team will have to pick up their aggressiveness, intensity and attention to detail on that end after the All-Star break.
Here’s the award-winning coach responding to the media about their defensive performance:
“One of the reasons why we made the trade for Gary [Payton II] was to shore up our perimeter defense. We were the No. 2 ranked defense in the league a year ago, so I think we have it in us. Hopefully, we can get healthy. We got a lot of guys who are starting to play well.”
Gary Payton II, however, will not be able to contribute immediately as he will have to sit out for at least a month. The defensive ace would have been the perfect plug-in acquisition that could raise their intensity and level on that end of the floor.
Without him, the Golden State Warriors will have to pick up their defensive effort as a unit or face a long offseason.