SAN FRANCISCO — Steph Curry’s logo 3-pointers. Klay Thompson’s unfathomable hot streaks. Draymond Green’s borderline telepathic passing and anticipation. For the better half of the past decade, the Golden State Warriors have been the embodiment of modern basketball offense. Fast. Precise. Accurate. Deadly.
The graceful beauty of that offense, particularly after Kevin Durant joined the fray, made it easy to overlook the rugged, disciplined effort taking place on the other end of the floor. During the Warriors’ three title runs in 2015, 2017 and 2018, their postseason rankings in defensive efficiency were first, second and first, respectively. The two times they didn’t win the championship during their stretch of five straight NBA Finals appearances, they finished the playoffs seventh and 11th defensively.
With that corporate knowledge safely secured in their collective hippocampus, it’s easy to see why defense has remained the top priority for the Warriors, who own the NBA’s stingiest defensive rating during their 7-1 start to the 2021-22 season. Green said that Warriors defensive coordinator Mike Brown “challenged everyone” to be accountable defensively, and so far — it’s working.
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“What they have in their favor is, they’ve had success when they’ve defended. They have that in their history and their experience. Steph understands that. Draymond understands that,” said Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, whose team recently suffered a 114-92 loss to Golden State. “When you have your two best players leading the charge on the defensive end, there’s got to be buy-in, and they understand that. They’re a smart group. It’s probably pushing the younger guys to defend at a higher level much quicker than they expected,