At first they featured a revamped defense that made them look like a possible No. 4 seed. Now they are featuring a defense that surrenders 101.5 points per game that has them clinging to a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers.
At this point in the season NBA games are changing. They are getting tougher and more physical. A style the Warriors can play, but not what they do best.
Perhaps if they utilize a specific lineup more often they could feature the toughness they need?
While their defense is lacking the promise it once showed, the Warriors can light it up offensively. David Lee and Stephen Curry alone provide enough offensive firepower to allow the team to score with any team, so why not feature a lineup with better defenders around them more often?
With any five-man unit that the Warriors would put on the floor you would like to see Curry and Lee a part of it. Both are playing at an All-Star level and are two of the better players in the entire NBA right now.
Klay Thompson, known for his shooting stroke, really has improved defensively this year. His ability to stretch the floor as well as bring defense to the table is a big plus. Despite his low shooting percentage in fourth quarter this year, 31.4 percent according to NBA.com, Thompson showed why he should be on the court late in games. His performance against the Sacramento Kings on March 6 proved it.
He hit a clutch three to put the Warriors ahead and followed that up with a great defensive stand on Tyreke Evans to close out the game.
Jarrett Jack has been as important as any Golden State player this year. The skills that he brings as a playmaker and ball-handler add a stellar dynamic to the Warriors offense featuring Curry as a scoring guard.
Having Jack on the floor and directing the offense allows Curry to concentrate more on scoring, something he knows a thing or two about. And Jack is no slouch on defense himself. He is a tough, hard-nosed defender who can match up with any point guard.
With the three-guard lineup, Curry can defend the opponent’s weakest scorer on the perimeter, and Thompson and Jack are solid defenders who can keep their man in front of them.
Ideally, you’d like the fifth man to be Andrew Bogut. While he is getting himself back into shape, the Warriors should be using Draymond Green more.
His offense has been borderline terrible and that has really cost him playing big minutes. But with the other four on the court, his offense shouldn’t be a problem. He can focus on doing all the little things while defending the post with Lee. Green can get physical with anyone and will really toughen up this five-man unit, which will feature strong defense to go with a very good offense.
With this five-man unit, according to NBA.com, the Warriors have a defensive rating of 89.1.
That good rating is coming from a small sample size, as those five have only been on the court together for 68 minutes. As the season winds down you’d like to see that minutes number rise even if the low rating goes up a bit.
The Warriors can be a good defensive team. Certainly it will help if and when Bogut is ever fully healthy; then the Warriors will be a dangerous team.
For now, while they work Bogut back into the lineup, the Warriors need to take a more physical approach and toughen up for the intense basketball that will transpire in the coming months. It will be new to them, but when the playoffs start the games slow down and get even more physical. They need to be ready.
As tough of a stretch that they have been on, the good news is the Warriors play 16 of their final 22 games at home. If they use this five-man rotation more than they have been, it might make the difference between having to play the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs.