Not only are the Warriors back in the third quarter with their 115-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday at the Chase Center, but Golden State also unveiled a new strategy for defending Russell Westbrook: Leave him as open as possible.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr explained why he had Draymond Green so far away from the former NBA MVP.
“Draymond, as a center, is, I think, the best in the league,” Kerr said. “I mean, there’s nobody who can throw up the pitch like he can and just make what’s going on, help wherever he needs to help, and then come in and come back.”
Kerr also made it a point to praise Donte DiVincenzo and Klay Thompson for their concerted efforts to rebound the ball and impact the game that way.
“Between Draymond and (Kevon Looney) directing the defense, our guards getting back on the glass, defending for the most part without scrambling, and just staying solid, I think we’ll find something,” Kerr added.
After the Warriors’ new defensive scheme went viral, Green revealed how the process of coming up with the unique game plan came about.
“… Coach texted me yesterday … and he indicated that would be the game plan,” Green said. “And then we went through it this morning in the shootaround and tried to get everybody to understand the concept — it’s really easy when a guy drops like that, when a guy catches it, you just mess him up and we didn’t want to to do it.”
The Warriors’ defensive ace also explained that the game plan worked because it got into Westbrooks’ head.
“We had Russ miss some 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 mental thing than his shot.
“And so I thought we did a good job of sticking to the game plan and we were able to make the game up for them on the defensive end and it ended up working for us.”
Westbrook has never been a deep threat, but Thursday’s game showed how important it is to develop a 3-point shot 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 continue to find ways to change the game.
And Thursday showed perhaps one effective way to slow down the rebuilding Clippers: By leaving Westbrook as wide open as possible.
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