DENVER -- Draymond Green is not a fan of the NBA’s newest points of education, which he interprets, with sound reason, as being largely beneficial to offense. It certainly appears that way for the Warriors.
For they are having an exceedingly difficult time defending without being whistled for fouls.
“It seems like every game we’re coming out and committing four fouls in the first five minutes or so,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday night, after the team’s first loss, 100-98 to the Nuggets at Pepsi Center. “It happened in preseason. It’s happened in all three games now.”
Three games into the season, the Warriors are minus-48 (108-60) in foul shots. They’ve been whistled for 81 personal fouls, an average of 27 per game. For perspective, they committed 1,607 fouls last season, an average of 19.6 per game.
“Some of the fouls we have are just dumb as hell,” Green said. “We’re in the bonus with six, seven and eight minutes to go in every quarter, and we’re still fouling. Some of them are a bit questionable and some of them are on us, just ridiculous.
“We’ve got to be smarter. We can’t sit there and act like every foul call on us is wrong. Throughout the course of the game, the officials are going to get some wrong. That’s the nature of the beast. They’re human. That’s the game we play.”
The Warriors paid a steep price against the Nuggets. Their fouls led to 42 Denver free throws, giving the Nuggets more than enough scoring to come away with a two-point victory.
Sure, Green missed a potential game-tying free throw in the final seconds. Sure, the Warriors were outrebounded (47-40). Sure, they shot 24.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc. And, sure, they were trailing by 13 with 8:28 remaining.
But no aspect of their performance -- with the possible exception of their 19 turnovers -- was more damaging than all those fouls, sending waves of Nuggets to the free throw line.
“It’s been called pretty tight,” Green said. “We were told that. Defense isn’t really an emphasis anymore in this league. You’re seeing that all around the league, with these high scores. We know what the emphasis is. We’ve just got to be better, and we haven’t done that in three games. We won two of them, but it caught us tonight.”
If the goal of the league was to generate more scoring, it’s working. Twelve teams are averaging at least 115 points per game. The Warriors, who last season led the league with 113.5 points per game, are at 110 after three games.
That’s the indirect influence of their fouling, which disrupts any chance of the Warriors gaining rhythm, much less kicking their transition game into overdrive.
“We’ve got to adjust, if that’s the way it’s going to be, consistently,” Stephen Curry said.
“We’re just not executing,” Green said. “We’re turning the ball over a lot. Part of that is we’re playing against a set defense every time.”
The transition game thrives when the defense is forcing misses or getting deflections and steals. Neither is happening as much as usual with the Warriors.
“We’ve got to correct it,” Kerr said. “We talk about it all the time, we drill it all the team. We do defensive drills without reaching, without grabbing, so you’ve got to just keep drilling it. It has to become something that becomes a habit. We haven’t gotten there this year.”
With a 2-1 record, it’s not as if the Warriors have fallen flat. But several problems have come to the surface, and fouling definitely is one of them. It’s one they’ll have to solve to get back to playing championship basketball.