It seemed like Warriors first playoff hopes in six years went down the drain when David Lee’s injury sat him for the rest of the season.
But the absence of Lee could be what propels the Warrior to a playoff series victory.
While David Lee has definitely been one of the two best Warriors all season long, on certain nights, he has definitely looked like one of the worst players on the court in a Warriors uniform.
David Lee is a player that suffers from just being useless when his offense is not going. Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Carmelo Anthony (until this season) are all players that suffer from this same syndrome.
Offense-oriented players that are lackluster defenders often get exposed in the playoffs. Opposing team’s defense steps up, and unless you are an offensive juggernaut (which David Lee is not), your production takes a dip. Opposing teams bring their A-game on the offensive end, and you can’t do much because you were never that great of a defender.
People love to talk about how defense wins championships. The only correction I would make to this statement is that it is defensive versatility that wins championships. The eventual NBA champion has to play four different teams with different playing styles, and it is the ability to respond and adapt to these situations that makes an elite defensive team great.
On the offensive end of a basketball court, one player could hypothetically carry you the whole game, but on the defensive end, the team playing four players against five players will get scored on a majority of the time.
With the loss of David Lee, the Warriors may now find themselves in better position for the rest of the playoffs. Their defensive versatility is much improved. Instead of the 37 minutes of Lee getting beat on defense, the Warriors now have three (Landry, Barnes, Green) high energy, high motor guys who can play at the power forward depending on the matchup. Lee’s minutes at center now belong exclusively to a rotation of three highly capable shot-blockers in Bogut, Ezeli, and Biedrins. The overall team defense and defensive versatility is much improved.
Yesterday’s Warrior win showed that Golden State might not be missing a beat with absence of Lee either. With Jack running the point, there is now a much higher priority towards finding Curry and Thompson on the wing coming off screens –I can confidently say that Stephen Curry is already the league’s best 3-point shooter ever, and his partner in crime Klay Thompson is also a 3-point marksman.
The Warriors have now gained homecourt advantage as they take to the court in Oakland. Just like the Nuggets, the Warriors have one of the strongest homecourt advantages in the league. It was the Warriors’ insanely hot shooting that won them Game 2, but was the improved offense just the flukiest of flukes, or a preview of things to come?