OAKLAND — Two things saved the Golden State Warriors from a relatively devastating fourth-straight loss on Tuesday, and they both were thanks to Draymond Green.
First, was a calming second-quarter speech during a timeout. And later, it was his one-man, full-court press on the Philadelphia 76ers’ TJ McConnell that disrupted the visiting team’s ability to comfortably get into their halfcourt sets.
After practice on Wednesday, head coach Steve Kerr, Zaza Pachulia and Patrick McCaw agreed it was Green setting the tone for a comeback in one game, and possibly a new blueprint for how to operate going ahead without Kevin Durant.
“When we were locked in defensively, it changed the whole game,” Kerr said. “That has to be our focus.”
Since Durant went down with a left knee injury Feb. 28, the Warriors have averaged 100.6 points over the last eight games, down from 118.2 points per game in the 59 before.
That’s forced Golden State into embracing an identity change. The days of simply taking the floor and outscoring their opponents has been put on hold for at least another two weeks.
That’s fine with Pachulia, who’s made his name on the defensive end of the floor.
“I don’t remember the last time we didn’t play a blowout game. So, I guess we got spoiled throughout the year,” he said. “We hit the wall now, but again, I’ll take it because it’s a good time for us to toughen up and concentrate more.”
Like before, Green will remain the key component to the Warriors, regardless of their approach. But his impact will be less complementary and more central to their success.
This will ring true, especially if his decision to implement a new defensive strategy is an indication of what’s to come.
“The way he comes across,” McCaw said of Green’s motivational stylings, “it’s like, we don’t have any other option.”
And neither do the Warriors, if they’re going to hold onto homecourt advantage.
“It feels like the beginning of a good stretch for us,” Kerr said.
One of ESPN’s Warriors beat writers, Ethan Strauss, said on the ESPN TrueHoop podcast that the team’s issues are deeper than just losing a few games since Durant’s injury.
As usual with bombshells like this, anonymous sources were involved.
“Is this malaise of theirs about not feeling motivated, not thinking they have something to play for,” Strauss said. “Is it just being tired? There’s one guy in particular on the team that keeps saying the same thing to me, and I can’t say who he is, but he keeps saying ‘We’ve got problems and it ain’t basketball.’”
He then wondered if Luke Walton’s success last season while Kerr recovered from back surgery might have “undermined Kerr’s authority.”
(H/T Real GM)
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