Jan 24, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) spins towards the hoop against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors Struggling On Defense

Two weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors returned home from a seven-game road trip with a record of 25-14, ready to take advantage of a home heavy stretch before the All-Star break. Eleven of the next 15 games would be at home, and both fans and players were excited to return to Oracle Arena and build on the momentum they had gained from the 10 game road trip.

However, the Warriors have been unable to capitalize on their home court advantage. They were able to squeak out a two-point victory over the Boston Celtics on a Stephen Curry buzzer beater, but have since gone 1-4, including a three game losing streak at home.

The recent problems the Warriors have encountered were on full display last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite Mark Jackson’s continuous calls that this team is a defensive team first , the Warriors yet again gave up another 30-point first quarter — 36 to the T-Wolves. That marks the fourth time in five games that the Warriors have given up 35-plus in the first quarter, a sign that the Warriors are not coming out to play early.

Although the offense was flowing early, leading to 36 first quarter points as well, a team that claims to have a defensive identity and ranks in the top 10 in defensive efficiency should not get burned early so consistently. While the recent results have been poor, they reflect the struggle the Warriors have had all year. Per teamrankings.com, the Warriors are currently ranked 25th in the league in Opponent First Quarter Points per game at 26.1.

However, during the recent stretch, the defensive struggles haven’t been limited to the first quarter or even the first half. The Warriors have given up over 120 points in three of the last five games, after only allowing an opponent to break 120 one time before all season. While during the early part of the season the Warriors have been able to turn on the defense in the second half, they haven’t been able to turn off the faucet recently and their record has paid the price.

Despite the defensive struggles, the Warriors have still managed to stay in these games. Harrison Barnes had a wide open look for the win last night, and the Warriors were right there against the Pacers, Thunder, and Nuggets late in the fourth quarter as well. However, if this team considers themselves a contender, the defense cannot afford to take nights off like it has recently.

Random Observations

  • The Warriors came out firing to start the game, matching the Timberwolves 36 first quarter points with 36 of their own. The Warriors were scoring in a variety of ways, led by 15 points by Curry including this ridiculous four-point play from 40-feet.
  • Andre Iguodala broke double digits for just the fourth time since returning from injury, including some clutch shots late. However, after establishing himself early with some nice post-ups, he was largely invisible during most of the game. Not only has Iguodala’s scoring been down since returning from injury, but his assists have also fallen as well. Before his injury, he was averaging over six assists per game, but since returning he is averaging only 3.5.
  • The Warriors got abused on the offensive boards last night. In the first five minutes, the T-Wolves already had five offensive rebounds, finishing with 14 for the game. Defensive stops were hard to come by in this game, and giving the T-Wolves second chance opportunities really hurt the Warriors.
  • Mark Jackson changed up his substitution patterns last night. Usually, Harrison Barnes is first off the bench replacing Iguodala, but last night he brought in Barnes and Draymond Green for Klay Thompson and David Lee. He also seems to have given up on the hockey substitutions, as there was always a starter on the floor the whole game.

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