CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Golden State Warriors are one of the NBA’s worst teams, but if there’s anything that’s stayed the same for them this season, it’s that Draymond Green can still give defenses fits with his passing skills and basketball IQ.
Green, a quintessential power forward of the positionless era, had one of his best nights being a floor general against the Cavs on Saturday.
And the Cavs had no way to stop him. Green tallied 16 assists in 26 minutes, tying a career high that he’s accomplished two other times. The Cavs lost 131-112, dropping their 10th consecutive home game. The longest home losing streak the Cavs had last season was nine games.
The back side of the Cavs’ defense was the most vulnerable area, with the Warriors scoring on multiple lobs and backdoor cuts. As one of the smartest players in the league, Green attacked the Cavs’ weak areas repeatedly.
“Their action that they do, they play the game from behind the defense, and it’s really hard to defend,” Cavs coach John Beilein said.
Beilein said with the way the Warriors’ offense runs, the Cavs worked on defending it some Friday to try and find ways to stop it.
“So they get the ball behind the defense, so you’re sort of watching your man, and the ball is behind you,” Beilein said. “And it’s really hard to play, that’s the way they’ve been playing all the time.”
The play below is a good example of how the Cavs got beat by Green’s basketball IQ. As Green received the pass, he drew attention from Larry Nance Jr. and John Henson. Neither player accounted for Marquese Chriss, who slipped to the basket for an easy dunk.
Despite the Warriors being last in the Western Conference, their principles of ball movement and player movement remain prevalent. The Warriors are ranked 12th in assists per game.
“Typically what would be great to do is you could practice it like really hard for an hour the day before the game,” Beilein said. “And then you probably might know how to do it. To run it, it’s so different, some of the action is so unique that you have to really practice it hard to be able to do it. You can’t just walk through it and simulate the way he (Green) zings those passes, those cuts are made.”
Green is averaging 6.2 assists per game this season, and he’s averaged six or more assists in the previous four seasons.
Kevin Love, one of the few Cavs players left from the Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals rivalry, knows how Green operates. The third quarter was when Green and the Warriors did most of their damage: Green had eight of his assists in the quarter.
But even while knowing how Green makes an impact, Love and the Cavs still didn’t have any way to stop the three-time champion.
“It’s always been that way,” Love said of Green making reads on backdoor cuts. “They drill that consistently every day in practice. They look for that, and a lot of those guards and even some forwards too, they know how to cut off that and get in front of the defender, get easy buckets or back door buckets. And Draymond’s always going to find them.”