After the Golden State Warriors soundly defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, much was made about Stephen Curry’s 37-point performance. Curry was brilliant as always, but the real star was Draymond Green. In 29 minutes of action, Green locked down former teammate Kevin Durant and led the Warriors to their most impressive defensive performance of the season.
The Golden State Warriors are winning with defense
Golden State has had no issue scoring this season, ranking second in the NBA in offensive rating. And yet, its defense has been even more impressive.
Tuesday’s 117-99 victory was the sixth time the Warriors held an opponent to under 100 points. Golden State’s foes have shot a league-worst 42.3% from the field with a 31.6% clip from three. Overall, the Dubs allow the third-fewest points per game at 101.6 while owning the league’s top defensive rating.
The third quarter against the Nets was the turning point for the Warriors, perfectly encapsulating the strength of their defense. Golden State limited Brooklyn to just 18 points on 22.7% shooting. It wasn’t a turnover frenzy either, forcing just two giveaways in 12 minutes. But the league-leading Warriors managed to overwhelm the Nets anyway.
Draymond Green locked down Kevin Durant
Defense is ultimately a team effort. But Draymond has long been the heart of Golden State’s suffocating defense and proved it again on Tuesday.
Green guarded Durant for nearly the entirety of Golden State’s exceptional third quarter. The three-time All-Star wound up stifling his old teammate, holding KD to 0-of-8 shooting from the field and a -17 rating. Durant wound up scoring just 19 points for the game on 6-of-19 shooting, the first time he’s been held under 20 points this season. Meanwhile, Green was +17 in the third.
“You can’t do a better job defensively than what Draymond did tonight,” head coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area after the game.
Draymond is putting together a DPOY case
With six All-Defensive selections on his resume, it’s hard to believe Green has just one Defensive Player of the Year Award. But as the best defender on the best defensive team in the NBA, Draymond is firmly in the mix for his second DPOY.
Green can guard players of any size evident by his lockdown of the 6-foot-10 Durant. He is an excellent rebounder whose 7.9 boards per game are the most he’s had since 2016-17, his DPOY campaign. But a lot of things Green does can’t be measured on a box score. His invaluable IQ, along with the ways he can switch and contest shots, make a massive impact for the Warriors.
“Y’all don’t judge defense the same way you judge offense,” Green told Bleacher Report last season after finishing third in DPOY voting. “There is no offensive situation where you don’t want Steph Curry on the floor. There is no offensive situation where you don’t want James Harden on the floor. … Well, guess what? There’s no defensive situation where you don’t want me on the floor.”
Based on his shutdown of Durant and the way he’s captained a defensive juggernaut, Draymond might be the favorite for the league’s most prestigious defensive honor.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.