To the surprise of no one, the Golden State Warriors laid a shellacking on the depleted Indiana Pacers, defeating them 120-83 on Monday.
The Pacers were missing Paul George, C.J. Miles, and Myles Turner due to injury, but Golden State showed no mercy as they led by double-digits most of the night. They never relented, allowing Steve Kerr to rest his starters for the duration of the fourth quarter.
Defensive issues are overblown
The "underwhelming" Warriors have swept their East Coast road trip 4-0 and are now 12-2 on the season, yet much of their success has come on the defensive end. Despite losing Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, two notable rim protectors, Golden State is averaging just as many blocks as they did last season (6.1). To compensate for the lack of a traditional big man, the Warriors are protecting the rim with long-limbed, athletic wing players in Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala.
Glen Robinson III thought he had an easy layup after Monta Ellis slashed through the lane and set him up, but Durant came out of nowhere to erase the shot. Durant has recorded at least one blocked shot in all but one game this season and already has 25 total. His predecessor, Harrison Barnes, had just 10 all of last season.
Nonetheless, Draymond Green leads the team in blocks, and against the Pacers, he backed up his claim that he deserves to win Defensive Player of the Year. On two separate occasions, Green swatted a driving Jeff Teague, and he was able to save the first rejection into the hands of Zaza Pachulia. JaVale McGee showed up to the block party as well, rejecting 3 shots in just 13 minutes.
A more telling stat than block totals, however, is 39.4%, which is what the Warriors forced opponents to shoot at the rim during the road trip. They stand at 49.8% on the season, which is better than last year's mark of 50.4%. Overall, the Warriors are a middle-of-the-pack defensive team according to NBA.com/Stat. However, as Dean Oliver points out, their defensive stats are inflated due to the amount of garbage time they've played this season and the lack of effort with which they play in those moments.
The Warriors' D efficiency is 20th overall, but actually 10th when it's not garbage time. Dead last in garbage time (21 pts worse than avg).— Dean Oliver (@DeanO_Lytics) November 21, 2016
Green and Durant are one and the same
Durant made his best Green impression against the Pacers, shooting just 9 shots (the 11th lowest mark of his career), yet substantially impacting the game. The lanky small forward finished the game with a well-rounded 14 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and multiple deflections, which is eerily similar to Green's 10-9-7-2-2 stat line. Durant has shown that, on a team not bereft of shooters, he's willing to focus on the non-glamorous parts of his game.
The offense is humming
Jeff Teague opened the game with a jumper that would give the Pacers their only lead of the night, as Klay Thompson and the Warriors responded with back-to-back threes and never looked back. For the eighth game in a row, the Warriors dished out at least 30 assists. Not including last season's Warriors, no team has accomplished this feat since the Charlotte Hornets' 13-game streak in 1989.
The Warriors are still getting better
At the beginning of the season, turnovers were the Achilles heel to what was supposed to be a historically great offense, but they've regained that flow and chemistry with which they've played in the last couple of seasons. In the first three quarters of last night's game, Golden State turned the ball over just 9 times.
Klay Thompson is officially back. His team-high 25 points against the Pacers is the lowest he's scored in any game during the road trip, and he's shot above 50% from the field in all four contests.
Steph Curry found his groove at the end of the first half, scoring 5 points in 36 seconds. It would've been 8 points had this double-clutch runner from 70 feet counted.
Can't count it, but let's watch it again pic.twitter.com/F9TssIeQ1H— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) November 22, 2016
I was disappointed this shot didn't count, but at least this wasn't the first time Curry made a shot from the opposing team's three-point line.