While the Golden State Warriors made moves to introduce the idea of a defensive presence to the franchise, they ended up losing five of seven games on their last road trip. Many of those loses occurred in ways that Warriors fans have seen too many times over the last decade.
One of those frustrations was a lack of interior defense. While inserting Ekpe Udoh into the starting line may prove beneficial in the future, the Warriors still were not able to contain Pacers forward Danny Granger, the penetrating and scoring Wizards guard Nick Young and the lights-out shooting of Celtics guard Ray Allen.
Inability to close out games also proved crucial during this road trip. The Warriors lost a 20-point lead in Washington D.C. against the Wizards in the second half. Fortunately, the exceptional play of guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry helped the Warriors escape with the victory.
One could also add poor clock management to the list of struggles. Against the Sixers, rather than attempting to make a defensive stop with 30 seconds remaining in the game, Warriors power forward David Lee choose to commit a foul, putting the game out of reach.
At times, certain substitutions have seemed questionable and confusing for Warriors fans. In New Jersey against the struggling Nets, who played without newly acquired point guard Deron Williams, Warriors center Ekpe Udoh was taken out of the game during the final minute and replaced by Andris Biedrins. The substitution was supposed to be for defensive purposes. However, looking at this road trip, many will notice that Udoh's strengths are blocking and disrupting the shots that his opponents take. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Nets center Brook Lopez took advantage of this substitution by scoring easily against Biedrins in the final minute of the game.
Things will not get easier for the Warriors during these final 18 games. Tonight, they return to Oracle Arena to face the Orlando Magic, who have beaten the Warriors six consecutive times. The Magic will also be seeking their season-best fourth consecutive road win. Look for Magic center Dwight Howard to dominate on the glass as well as score at will in the paint.
Will the Warriors be able to contain the rest of the Orlando Magic cast? That remains to be seen.
Tonight's game against the Orlando Magic begins at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.