With the Warriors 129-100 loss today, the season which many people expected to see Golden State dominate, started on the downhill. The Warriors were blown away on their home court in a game where Kawhi Leonard poured in 35 points.
Though the Warrior’s game eluded to the biggest issue that will haunt them the entire year; the imbalance between offence and defence. On a regular night, the Warriors can outscore any team, but tonight they played the Spurs. The Spurs are one of the best defensive team, having 2x and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard has the ability to be a strong defensive presence both down low and on the perimeter. For a team that relies heavily on the 3-point shot, this perimeter defence can make or break the entire offence.
The Warriors shot 21.2% tonight, and this can only be linked to the perimeter defence. And this link is terrifying for the Warriors. An ability to shut down the three ball means the Warriors will have to completely re-shape their entire offensive identity. The identity that won them a championship in 2015. The identity that got them to 73-9. The insane 3 point game plan completely revolutionised the Warriors, so taking that away would be a huge step-back.
On a greater look at the landscape of the NBA, if teams take notice of this, then even average teams could take down Golden State.
The Bucks have Matthew Dellevadova, who completely shut down Curry in the 2015 Finals. If Dellevadova locks down Curry, Antetokounmpo takes Durant, and Monroe protects the key.
Boston use Bradley to shut down the Splash Brothers, while Horford keeps Pachulia and Green out of the key.
Though this issue extends further than just stopping the Warriors offence. The Warriors have little defence. Argue for Green all you want, but an undersized power forward can’t be the sole defensive anchor. Curry barely plays defence and Thompson and Durand aren’t exactly elite level defenders.
The Spurs exposed the Warriors in the first game, and with 81 more to go, the “super team” in the Bay Area may just be a failed experiment.