Draymond Green

Warriors ‘coming together' thanks to recent defensive improvement

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The majority of the Warriors’ problems this season have stemmed from the team’s defense. Against the 76ers on Wednesday, it was a major positive and factored heavily into Golden State’s second victory over Philadelphia in eight days.

The Warriors forced 14 turnovers, matched their season-high of nine blocks and held the 76ers to 23 points or fewer in each of the first three quarters before coach Steve Kerr rested his starters for much of the fourth.

The result was a 127-104 win, Golden State’s third in four games on this road trip.

“I was so impressed with our guys’ defense and the connection,” Kerr told reporters in Philadelphia after the win. “The whole group just played with great energy and it just really feels like this team is coming together.”

A big reason is the defense.

The target of so much criticism throughout the 2023-24 NBA season, Golden State’s ability to defend has improved significantly over the last five games.

In four games before playing the 76ers, the Warriors had compiled a 106.5 defensive rating that was fourth-best in the NBA during that stretch. Compare that to the team’s overall rating of 116.7 that was 20th in the league before Golden State put the clamp down on Philadelphia.

The Warriors have held four of their last five opponents to 107 points or fewer. The only blip was an overtime loss in Atlanta when the Hawks piled up 141 points.

“Defense has been better over the last couple of weeks,” Kerr said. “I don’t know what their rating is, but I’m sure it’s dramatically better than we were before that stretch.”

A major reason why Golden State’s defense has improved so much is the return of defensive mastermind Draymond Green after his second NBA suspension this season. Green is like a traffic officer for the Warriors, calling out plays and directing players around to get in the right positions.

But it’s not just Green making big plays.

Against Philadelphia, Andrew Wiggins had a terrific offensive night that was equaled by how well he played at the other end. Matched up primarily against Tyrese Maxey most of the game, Wiggins limited the 76ers star to 12 points – matching his second-lowest output – and held Maxey to a minus-27 for the game.

Even though the Warriors suffered through their own struggles in the first quarter, the defense kept things from getting out of hand. They forced the 76ers into six turnovers and didn’t allow a made 3-pointer during the first 12 minutes of the game, two areas in which Golden State has had its fair share of problems this season.

Keeping the defense going will be huge for the remainder of the season.

The Warriors certainly will be tested Thursday when they play at Indiana. The Pacers lead the NBA in scoring at 124.3 points per game and have been held under 109 points only six times in 52 contests.

After that, Golden State returns to Chase Center to face former Warriors star Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns before playing the Utah Jazz twice in three days, sandwiched around a game against the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers.

That’s a task that would have been daunting a few weeks ago. Not so much anymore, as long as the Warriors keep defending the way they have been recently.

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