The Warriors left Chase Center on Tuesday night lamenting their fourth-quarter offense that dried up in the clutch. Despite the 104-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Warriors continued to look like a solid defensive team since the return of Draymond Green.
“His IQ is out of this world, defensively,” Andrew Wiggins said in a postgame video conference call with reporters. “He’s everywhere.”
Green’s prowess has been in the spotlight lately, as he helped seal a wild win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday by calling out their late inbounds play. He also had another highlight play Tuesday when he stuffed a 3-on-1 Pacers fast break all by his lonesome.
The numbers back up what his teammates’ praise. Golden State ranked 24th in defensive rating (112.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) through the first four games of the season without Green. The Brooklyn Nets handed the Warriors a 26-point loss on opening night, before the Milwaukee Bucks recorded a 37-point blowout victory against Golden State on Dec. 25.
Now this team is clearly different when Green is on the floor directing traffic. In his seven games with the squad, the Warriors rank 10th in defensive rating (108.1).
“Having Draymond back has been a big help,” forward Kevon Looney said. “He’s a quarterback, the anchor of our defense. Having him out there has been great. He’s been able to talk to Andrew and Kelly [Oubre Jr.] to give them that confidence. They can pressure the ball and him and James and the other bigs back there to protect them has really changed our intensity of our defense.”
Green is something of a player-coach now in his ninth year in the league. His teammates and the coaching staff should feel lucky to have him impacting the game on virtually every defensive possession.