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Finally, the Warriors are playing focused, intense defense

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After rough stretches of uninspired play, the Warriors’ defense appears to be back.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Golden State Warriors John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors’ intensity and focus has been inconsistent this season, and it has manifested mostly on the defensive end.

Despite turnovers and poor bench shooting, the Warriors’ offense has always maintained elite status, even during the most troubling times this season.

But the defense, which has been top five in defensive rating in the league for four years in a row, has been simply awful at times. According to NBA.com’s statistics, the Warriors have the sixth best rating; other sites, like Basketball Reference, have them even lower.

So what’s happened? Despite Kevin Durant improving as a shot blocker, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala have had down years defensively. Both have looked a little banged up, and just haven’t had the focus or drive to perform at their best levels. And for the most part, that’s okay: the regular season doesn’t mean that much to this squad.

A closer look at the numbers reveals impressively inconsistent defensive ratings by month. The Warriors were simply terrible in the months of October and January.

Warriors’s Defensive Rating by Month

Month Defensive Rating Rank
Month Defensive Rating Rank
October 108.4 26
November 97.5 1
December 101.9 2
January 109.6 26
February 102.3 5
March 97.3 4

Even if their defensive rating might not be top five this year, their peak level of defensive performance is unlikely to be worse than in previous years. They really just have to be locked in.

Luckily, the season is drawing to a close and the Warriors seemed focused on playing with effort and poise. In the past 10 games, their defensive rating of 100.0 ranks third in the league. Draymond Green, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is especially active.

As long as they’re healthy and rested for the playoffs, defensively this team should be picking up right where it left off last year. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green comprise one of the scariest defensive squads in a long time.