How the Golden State Warriors Rebuilt Their Elite Defense

December 22nd, 2016 by Erik Malinowski Leave a reply »

When Golden State Warriors fans go to that dark place where they ponder the living nightmare that was Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a few images invariably stand out:

LeBron James' block on Andre Iguodala. Kyrie Irving's clutch three-point dagger. Kevin Love's improbable lockdown defense on Stephen Curry.

The one image that should stand out, however—and likely still does for avid fans across the Bay Area—is Anderson Varejao's playing critical third-quarter minutes.

While Cavs coach Tyronn Lue tightened up his rotations as the game clock ticked down, Warriors helmsman Steve Kerr elected to keep the net widely cast. Part of this was gut instinct on his part, but it was also largely necessitated by circumstance: Golden State simply didn't have size to spare. Andrew Bogut was knocked out of the series in Game 5 with a knee injury, Festus Ezeli was laboring through a dismal postseason and had nothing to offer, and Marreese Speights wasn't a classic center by any means.

Alas, it had to be Varejao, who played four minutes and 20 seconds of the third, committed two fouls, di ...

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