Offense gets all the glory. All the talk about the Warriors is focused on their offense, but they are more than just an offensive team. Their defense is an unsung hero, 22 games into the season and they are even better than during their championship season.
The style of offense the Warriors play leads to more possessions for both teams, so although their defensive numbers do not read like other good defensive teams on the surface when measured by points allowed over a 100 possessions a game, the Warriors are a top ten defense.
When judged that way, the championship Warriors led the league in defensive efficiency at 101.9 points over a 100 possessions, and although they are 6th this year at 101.02 points over 100 possessions they lead the league in net differential efficiency (Points scored per 100 possessions – Points allowed over 100 possessions). Last year their differential was 10.32 per game, and this year they have increased it by 4.7 points to 15.02. The next closest team is the Spurs who are 4.3 points behind them.
An examination of one of their defensive possessions versus the Clippers shows that their defense moves like a unit. They do a great job helping each other and positioning themselves to recover quickly to their man.
Barnes is in great help position to take Crawford’s driving lane away and to recover quickly to Rivers. This buys enough time for Iguodala to get back in front of Crawford.
Ezeli can go double Crawford because Barnes jumps back to the middle of the free throw line and has Griffin if the ball goes there. As he does that Curry positions himself to cover the entire weakside, he can recover to either player if the ball is thrown that direction.
Crawford passes to Griffin and Ezeli is in position to recover to him. The rest of the team is in good help position. The shot clock is down to 9 seconds and the Clippers offense is in tough situation.
As a Clipper comes to set a flare a screen on Barnes, he works his way over the top of the screen as Curry takes over his help position. Curry is now in position to take the middle drive away from Griffin. Green is responsible if the screener slips to the basket.
As Griffin drives down the left side of the lane, Ezeli does a phenomenal not giving him any clear angles to the basket and Green rotates over as the last line of defense. The defense collapses on him. Iguodala reaches in but does not compromise his position to close out on Crawford’s shot.
With Iguodala and his 6’11” wingspan closing out, Crawford’s shot is off target and the Clippers get called for a shot clock violation. Even if the ball hits the rim, the Warriors are in great rebounding position having four players in or around the key versus the two Clippers.
The screenshots above illustrates how the Warriors defense moves as one unit. As one Warrior moves the others react and adjust their position to eliminate options for the offense.
The Warriors offense gets all the glory but it is their defense if it continues to play this way that will carry them to their second straight championship.