Golden State Warriors fans are used to coaches' preseason proclamations that this year's team will place an increased emphasis on defense. They are even more used to finding out that, emphasis or no, this year's team stinks on D — just three Warriors teams in the past 30 years have finished in the top half of the league in points allowed per 100 possessions. Before last season, new coach Mark Jackson promised a playoff run keyed by hard-nosed defense, then watched his Warriors finish 13th in the West after giving up an average of 106 points per 100 possessions, tied for the NBA's fourth-worst mark, according to NBA.com's stat tool. Second verse, same as the first.
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This year, though, the Warriors promise things will be different. (Really!) Last season's trade-deadline deal for center Andrew Bogut, a defensive-minded presence in the middle that the Dubs have long lacked, promised a new direction; even without Bogut, who's still working his way back from surgery to repair his left ankle, Golden State's held opponents to 91.4 points per game on 39.6 percent field-goal shooting this preseason. Even knowing it's just preseason, you could forgive Warriors fans for thinking maybe — just maybe — the long-promised commitment to defense and attention to detail have come.
Which is why you feel for them, knowing that it all goes away just as fast as Jeremy Tyler, Kent Bazemore and Jarrett Jack can run away from Blake Griffin — you know, the guy who does all the dunking — when he catches the ball under the basket.
Griffin finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one block and zero turnovers in 25 minutes of run as his Los Angeles Clippers scored an 88-71 victory over the Warriors in a game that really bummed coach Jackson out:
''I thought it was the first time in a long time that we looked like a bad team,'' Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. ''We didn't rebound the basketball, we didn't take care of the basketball, we didn't execute, and we took the path of least resistance. It's embarrassing."
Luckily, there are some easy things the Warriors can tighten up to help them get on the right track. Not having three guys run away from the players who had the most dunks in the NBA last season when he has the ball within two feet of the basket would be a pretty good start, and is the kind of thing that patient coaching can correct. It might take a while, but coaching is about teaching, first and foremost.
Hang in there, Warriors fans.
Video courtesy of our friends at the National Basketball Association.
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