Iguodala out for Warriors in start of back-to-back with Cavs, Pistons
Curry questionable (hip), as Golden State takes the long view
It’s a tough time to be a hater of the Golden State Warriors. With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green playing at full power, and the roster parts humming along as well as they have in years, the Warriors are plowing through opposition. After thoroughly handling Kevin Durant’s Nets, the Warriors are travelling to the familiar home of their old rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers - now rebuilding (again).
Don’t call them old, but it looks like Golden State is resting some old legs, which should honestly be fine against a Cavs team that wasn’t super threatening, even before they got hit with a recent rash of injuries that claimed both rookie sensation Evan Mobley, as well as Collin Sexton. The Cavs are themselves coming into tonight on the tail end of their own back-to-back, coming in off a feisty ten point loss to the Nets last night.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (12-2) at Cleveland Cavaliers (9-6)
WHEN: Thursday, November 18, 2021 // 4:30pm PDT (← early)
How about that Warriors defense?
The Golden State defense is as good as it has ever been - which is a phenomenal achievement for this franchise. The dominance on both ends is really the story so far, but because offense generally gets so much more coverage, I want to focus on the defensive side of the equation tonight.
I know it’s still early, but the Warriors have played almost one-fifth of their regular season and trends are beginning to emerge. The Warriors have looked extremely promising since the preseason, and as Anthony Slater wrote after the last game the evidence is beginning to pile up, and that evidence indicates that we are watching a powerhouse develop:
Through 14 games, the Warriors have a 98.9 defensive rating. It’s still early, but the sample is growing. The Lakers were the best defense in the league a season ago with a 106.8 rating. No team has finished under 100 in any of the past five seasons.
Now, I don’t write about defense as much as offense, because honestly, it is much harder to measure. The most used metric, Defensive Rating, a team stat. One that the Warriors are dominating in. So sure, let’s go ahead and points at that league-leading defensive rating. Or, we could even go further and note that the defense is actually better with Curry on the floor. Then again, Curry makes everything better.
This comes back to exactly what makes defense so hard to get a handle on, statistically. One way or another though, the Warriors are absolutely smashing everyone right now.
A big part of that is the scheme of Steve Kerr. His Warriors were one of the first teams that embraced the “switch everything” defense which has become as trendy as bell bottoms in the 70’s. But at the core, this is driven by personnel. Green is obviously the main backbone here, and there’s a ton of credit to hand out up and down the roster - from Curry, to two-way Wiggs, to any number of bench options. But it’s no coincidence that Andre Iguodala has returned right before the vaunted defense came back to life.
Kevin Durant just had his worst scoring night of the season against this Warriors defense. Watch this short clip of his drive getting funneled between Iguodala and Green and remember that this guy is one of the most lethal scorers in the history of the NBA.
Golden State isn’t just twiddling their thumbs while waiting for the return of Klay Thompson. This is a viable, dangerous team right now… that just so happens to be getting closer and closer to the return of the missing half of the Splash Bros.
Checking in on the house LeBron built, left, came back to, and then left again
The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the most surprising teams of the early NBA season. On the strength of shockingly good rookie, Evan Mobley, they’ve charged out to a solid start. With a 7th-ranked defense and a bunch of promising young talent, it’s looking like the franchise may be able to regenerate just in time for James to skip out of LA and return home to a good team.
Right now though, the Cavs are too banged up to do much.
With Iguodala sitting, I think we can all agree: it’s Kuminga time!