The Warriors’ team defense hasn’t been great so far this season. Since getting blown out by the Spurs on the first night of the 2016-17 NBA season, Golden State has reeled off three consecutive wins against the Pelicans, Suns, and Trail Blazers, but they’ve failed to keep any team under 100 points this season and are currently giving up 111.8 points per game. Part of that is because the frenetic pace of their offense lends itself to higher-scoring games—they gave up an average of 104.1 points per game last season en route to a 73-9 regular season record—but part of that is because they’re still adjusting to their new roster and the loss of players like Andrew Bogut, who anchored their defense for much of last season.
Prior to the Warriors’ game against the Blazers on Tuesday night, Damian Lillard was asked about Golden State’s defensive approach this season. And he said that the Warriors are just "not the same" on the defensive side of the ball without Bogut. "They are a great offensive team and I think they will still be a good defensive team," Lillard told CSNNW, "but it’s different than where Bogut is not back there. It’s just not the same."
Lillard said the Blazers’ plan was to attack the rim against the Warriors to try and capitalize on the absence of Bogut. But the plan didn’t really work out too well for Portland.
The Blazers did score 104 points against the Warriors on Tuesday night—and Lillard had 31 himself—but 31 of their points came in garbage time in the fourth quarter with the Warriors up almost 30. Golden State won the game 127-104, and after it ended, Draymond Green spoke with reporters about Lillard’s comments and said that he was happy to hear them. According to him, the Warriors aren’t all that much different on defense this season despite the loss of Bogut, and he thinks the team is only going to get better as the season goes on. Until then, he hopes people continue to overlook the Warriors’ defense like Lillard did.
"That was great for us, to really come out and put that kind of game together on the defensive end, especially when our defense is being called out," he said. "You know, that there’s no anchor and it’s not the same and all that. I think some opinions will change, sooner than later. But until then, we’ll just keep doing that, and when they change, we’ll keep doing that still. It was fun to do that."
He added: “I love when people say stuff like that. I take it personal, and so, I appreciate it. It really got me going on that end tonight, and I felt amazing out there. And I think our defense was amazing. So yeah, I love when people say stuff like that. Continue to do it!”
Something tells us opposing players won't continue to do it. The last thing this Warriors team needs is more motivation to win.