SAN FRANCISCO — A bad Draymond Green game typically spells trouble for the Warriors’ defense.
Having played six games over the last nine days — winning five in a row at home — Green’s tank was running on empty against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. He fouled out late in the fourth quarter with one assist, four turnovers and five rebounds.
A game like that from Green earlier this year would have Golden State spiraling into ugly loss territory. He’s preached about the team’s lack of defensive identity and grit as the prognosis for the Warriors’ unimpressive season thus far, and Green’s efforts taped together any defensive cohesion Golden State had this year.
But Green’s stinker went practically unnoticed. His teammates — without Andrew Wiggins and Steph Curry — had the defense under control. They held the Pelicans to 99 points in their win, capping off a five-game homestand in which they recorded a 102.8 defensive rating. A far cry from their 114.9 rating over the first 64 games this season.
The coaching staff employing more complicated, playoff-level defensive schemes instilled a grit this team has lacked all year. Trust, the players say, is at the root of the turnaround.
“It’s chemistry,” Jonathan Kuminga said. “It has always been there. It was just a matter of time to build that chemistry together. Lot of guys come in and out, lot of people haven’t played with each other. It’s coming back around and hopefully we will keep doing the same thing.”
Kuminga’s perimeter defense has revelation on his own. He had four steals and a block in Friday’s win while locking down 6-foot-8 wing Brandon Ingram to 17 points. With Wiggins out for personal reasons and Gary Payton II injured until further notice, the Warriors were in desperate need of some disruptive perimeter defense. The 20-year-old has delivered.
“I haven’t been in this league too long,” Kuminga said. “Being around the greatest player in this league, people don’t like players getting physical with them. I feel like I do that. I just try to get in your head and take advantage…A lot of people don’t like that and that’s all we had to go out there and do today. It starts with Klay (Thompson) coming in and being physical.”
Kuminga takes pride in his physicality and individual prowess, but understands he’s most useful as a cog in a defensive machine. That chemistry on defense seemed to have …read more
Source:: The Mercury News