Do the Golden State Warriors Have Any Weaknesses to Exploit?
Less than 24 hours ago, I wrote about the Golden State Warriors and their chances of reaching 73 wins. Today is a new day.
Knowing that the Warriors have a very small chance at grasping history by winning 72 games (they have a 10.9% chance to tie or break the record and a 4.2% chance to hit 73 wins), I thought about what opposing teams can do down the stretch to make sure the numbers prove true.
But the Warriors don't have any weaknesses, right? So, how could teams possibly keep them from finishing 23-4 over the last 27 games?
After all, it took 41 games for them to lose four games in the first half of the season.
I'm not saying history definitely won't be made, and I'm not saying that it's easy to beat the defending champions. If the NBA wants a chance to prevent them from reaching 73 wins, though, they do have weaknesses to exploit.
Here are three things teams should try to do in order to contribute a game to the Golden State loss column before regular season's end.
The Warriors could very well be one of the best passing teams in NBA history. As a team, they rank first in the NBA with 29.1 helpers per game and are the only team with at least 1,500 assists so far this season, totaling 1,603 assists. The next closest team is the Atlanta Hawks with 1,475.
Of course, a great passing team can't be considered as such unless it is made up of unselfish teammates and above average passers -- something Golden State has a lot of.
The Warriors roster consists of nine players averaging at least one assist per game, six players averaging at least two assists per game and two players -- Stephen Curry and Draymond Green -- averaging more than 6.5 assists per game.
When the Warriors are clicking on all cylinders and whipping the ball around the court, it's tough to beat them. The Bay Area boys are 47-1 on the season when winning the assist battle, and in their 50 wins (yes, fifty) they average 29.8 assists per contest.
But, you can beat them at their own game -- it's been done.
When losing the assist battle, Golden State is 3-4 to date with 22.2 assists per game in their five total losses. That's a difference of 7.6 helpers between games they've won and games they've lost.
What this tells me is that it is paramount to somehow, someway get the Warriors off their best game and to keep them from moving the ball from one side of the floor to the other without the ball touching the floor.
In the same way, it's also key to play as a team against the Golden State defense and to move the ball around until the open man gets a shot. In the Warriors' five losses their opponents have averaged over three more assists per game than they have in Warrior victories.
Defend the Three-Point Line
I know, I know -- easier said than done.
It sure is, but it is very important to force the Splash Brothers into off shooting nights. If, by chance, they and the rest of the Dubs' shooters are just a little off the mark, it can pay off in a big way.
There has been a big discrepancy in three-point shooting between Warrior wins and Warrior losses. Not only does the volume fall by over five attempts per game, but the accuracy falters as well.
As a result of the drop in their conversion rate by more than eight percentages points, the Warriors have made exactly nine three-pointers per game in their five losses and haven't made more than 12 three-pointers in a single game in which they've ended up on the losing end.
It's easy to say and hard to do, but if the desired effect is achieved, the chances of bringing down the defending champs are that much greater.
Play at Home
Now, this is something opposing teams just don't have any control over. Either the schedule says away or the schedule says home.
If you ever want to play the Warriors, it's when you're in the comfort of your own arena because all five of Golden State's losses have come on the road. In those five games, they really have struggled to defend.
They've allowed 116.8 points per game with a Defensive Rating of 116.3, which would place them last in the entire NBA. It's also 13.4 points higher than their average points allowed per 100 possessions on the season. What's the difference?
Other than what I have previously mentioned in the way of assists, Golden State has allowed opponents to shoot better away from the raucous crowds of Oracle. They've given up 44.1% from the floor and 34.7% from beyond the arc, differentiated from the 42.2% and 28.9% they allow from the field and three-point line, respectively.
Unfortunately for the NBA, going forward, there are only 10 lucky teams who get the Warriors at home in the remaining 27 games. The Heat, Jazz, Thunder and Spurs are all among those teams, so there's certain to be close calls along the way.
I can't wait to watch some of these great, competitive games that are sure to come down the stretch not only to see if history can be made but also to see if it can be thwarted by those opposing the champions.