Let me start by saying that the Golden State Warriors are having a phenomenal season and that they should be included in the discussions centered on being the greatest team ever. That being said, let’s not be swayed by social media and all of this over -the-top praise by their recently discovered fan base. For a moment, let’s turn off the bias media that is pushing the all time popularity of the sport due to their vested interests. Let us reflect upon the actual play of the Warriors with an analytical eye, not a judgmental one. Since you have read this far into this article, allow me to further illuminate your path towards righteousness and away from propaganda.
Golden State has employed a very efficient offensive system that exploits the inadequacies of today’s defensive game. That same system also accentuates their offensive attributes and hides their shortcomings as individual players. As with Tex Winter’s triangle and Mike D’Antoni’s sped up offenses, systems are designed to exploit defensive weaknesses of the era by virtue of sound basketball principles and fundamentals such as ball movement, spacing, and player movement based on reading and reacting. These basketball systems have always been centered on their respective catalysts as well. The triangle had Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. D’Antoni’s system had Steve Nash at its inception at Phoenix. Yet, as with every magician’s optical illusion, once you now how the trick works, it stops being magical.
Every offensive system has its flaws. It is the objective of a defensive system, or philosophy, to expose the aforementioned flaws with sound defensive principles and fundamentals such as well-spaced ball pressure, consistent rotations, and a deliberate channeling of offensive tendencies. Great defense cannot exist in a read and react dimension. No, on the contrary, it must be imposed upon your adversary with an intense determination and deliberate premeditation. After the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks got old, the triangle never really faced that type of defensive intensity. The Suns never made the (NBA) finals because they couldn’t beat a team that could slow them down that had a good post game. With regard to the Pistons and Knicks, the Warriors have never had to play against that type of defense.
We will take the Los Angeles Lakers win against the Warriors and examine what transpired as the contest occurred. The absolute first thing I noticed was the fact that the Lakers were rotating well on defense and contesting every shot attempt. They also did a better job of picking up Stephen Curry right before the half court line if they weren’t already in transition. They also switched all on the ball screens with an emphasis on taking away Curry’s offensive spacing to shoot. Throughout the game there were very few times I saw some one wide open attempting a shot, which may have something to do with Warriors 13.3% 3-point shooting. What surprised me was the purposeful movement and premeditation that caused the Warriors to commit 20 turnovers for the game. One of the cornerstones of great defense is the ability to force offensive players to play in such a way that they are not comfortable or capable of. The Lakers effort today, while not commonplace for them, is an example of the defense of yesteryear in concept and execution.
Every great team had their difficulties to endure through. These are the reasons for why we admire them so much. The Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Detroit teams of the 80’s had their challenges as well, it just happened to come in different form. Those teams were equally matched with talent so it truly became a battle of whom wanted it more and whom will impose its will harder. Those were great times. With the playoffs looming, this is the perfect time to strengthen your legacy and stake your claim as one of the best teams ever. There is no shame in losing in the playoffs, but no one likes to be remembered as a one trick pony. Peace.