Not only are the third-quarter Warriors back with their 115-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday at Chase Center, but Golden State also unveiled a new strategy for defending Russell Westbrook: Keep him as open as possible.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr explained why he flexed Draymond Green so far from the former NBA MVP.
“Draymond, as a center, is, I think, the best in the league,” Kerr said. “I mean, there’s no one who can kind of mess up the lane like they can and just prep for what happens, help wherever they need help, and then come in and bounce back.”
Kerr also made a point of praising Donte DiVincenzo and Klay Thompson for their concerted efforts to bounce the ball and impact the game that way.
“Between Draymond and (Kevon Looney) leading the defense, our guards getting back on the glass, defending flawlessly, for the most part, and just staying solid, I think we’re finding something,” Kerr added.
After the Warriors’ new defensive scheme went viral, Green revealed how the process for coming up with this unique game plan was put together.
“…Coach texted me yesterday…and he hinted that this would be this game plan,” Green said. “And then we went through it this morning in a shootout and tried to get everyone to understand the concept – it’s very easy when a guy slumps like that, when a guy grabs him you spin just to him and we didn’t want to do that.”
The Warriors defensive ace also explained that the game plan worked because he got into Westbrook’s head.
“We had Russ miss a few shots, but I think when you have a game plan like that…what it does to you mentally is tough,” Green continued. “And I think it was more the mind than his shooting.
“And so I think we did a good job sticking to the game plan and we were able to scramble the game for them on the defensive end and it ended up working for us.”
Westbrook has never been a deep threat, but Thursday’s game proved just how important developing a 3-point shot is in today’s NBA.
The former MVP scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field and missed all five of his shots from beyond the arc.
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With how the Warriors have changed basketball over the past decade, it makes sense for them to keep finding ways to change the game.
And Thursday showed perhaps an effective way to slow down the retooled Clippers: by leaving Westbrook as open as possible.
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