The Golden State Warriors have come on strong lately, winning five straight games to improve to 9-3 after a somewhat sluggish (at least for them) 4-3 start to the season.
The Warriors are firing on all cylinders offensively, but they are also doing things in other aspects of the game that are helping them win.
For instance, while the Warriors score an NBA-high 119.1 points per game, they also only give up 107.8 points per night - not the best average, but a good one for such a high-powered offensive team.
And, according to star forward Draymond Green (who anchors the defense), the Warriors are just starting to come into their own on that side of the ball (via Yahoo! Sports):
“It’s finally coming along. We’re starting to put it together,” Green said. “We’re taking more ownership in one-on-one defense. We’ve just locked in more on one-on-one defense and taking on the challenge.”
The Warriors have had the NBA's toughest schedule to open the season, but from here on out, they actually have the easiest schedule in the league, so they should be able to continue improving their defensive numbers.
Star point guard Steph Curry said moving the ball offensively and playing great defense are the two biggest keys to Golden State's success:
“Defensively we’ve just had longer stretches of high intensity and high level of focus,” Curry said. “That’s allowed us to control the momentum of games and the flow of games.
“I know if we focus on taking care of the basketball and playing solid defense, and focusing on that, and really, hopefully, regardless of how our offense is, we’ll be in a good position to win games.”
Even opponents are taking note of the Warriors' great defense, as Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau had some high praise for that aspect of Golden State's game after a recent loss to them:
“I think you learn a lot from playing against them because that’s what a championship team looks like. They play hard. They play together. You look at their willingness to sacrifice for each other and make plays,” Thibodeau said. “They had 37 assists on 48 baskets. Their defense over the last five games has been back to what their defense is. That’s why they’ve been able to win the way they’ve won. I think their willingness to sacrifice and play for each other is what makes them great. They take good shots. They make the game easy for each other. When you do that, the results will be good.”
The Warriors have two manageable home games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic before they travel to Boston to take on the red-hot Celtics. If they bring their best defense to the East Coast, they may be the only team that can stop Boston right now.