Watching Draymond Green lose is always fun. Watching him lose with Willie Cauley-Stein and Deangelo Russel is less satisfying than it otherwise could be.
The Spurs won big, played DeMarre Carroll a bit, and got a little more rhythm. After five games (just five) the Spurs are not the same offensive team they were last season. They turn the ball over more,
The offensive rating is about the same but crucially, the defensive rating has improved. We wrote about progress last game, and that is the goal. It is a difficult one to achieve with so many moving parts. DeMarre Carroll played in just his first game last night. He was brought in because of his defense. Dejounte Murray is the best perimeter defender and is limited to 25m per game and did not play vs the Warriors.
That has a knock-on effect in that DeMar DeRozan is asked to play more point guard. He only took seven shots, scored only 13 but had 11 assists.
DeRozan has been able to be more aggressive attacking the defense when he has Murray and White running the offense. In this one, the aggression came from Patty Mills, taking a team-leading 16 shots and scoring 31.
In all, it is unremarkable that the Warriors have fallen so far so fast. The have so many injuries and new faces that it is not the same team that went to 5-straight Finals. It highlights how impressive LeBron’s run was, and even more impressive how the Spurs were able to maintain a level of consistency and competitiveness for 20+ years.
Green said this week “this is something (losing) that everyone except Tim Duncan has experienced”. It is true. Tim never missed the playoffs, as these Warriors will this season.
The Spurs are missing the top-five talent that the Clippers, Lakers, and probably Milwaukee have, but if things break right, they can be something like a dark horse. They have a great coach, a good system, and good-enough players. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are good enough players to produce Playoff calibre teams. Murray and the rest of the young guns may be just enough depth to carry the team deep.
This Warrior game was missing Murray, and he would have helped limit whatever offense the Warriors produced to make it more interesting late. He would have helped limit (maybe) Dame Lillard the other night.
Against a Jamal Murray last season, maybe a Murray lock-down defensive performance could have given SA just enough advantage to move on. The devil is always in the details and those details get refined in early November on the second night of a back-to-back.