Behind The Numbers

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What Happened To The Warriors' D?

By John Schuhmann

The Golden State Warriors were the feel-good story of the first half of the season. Mark Jackson was a Coach of the Year candidate, David Lee and Stephen Curry looked like All-Stars, and the Dubs had a top-10 defense ... without Andrew Bogut.

On Jan. 2, the Warriors beat the Clippers for the second time this season and stood at 22-10. They were just percentage points behind the 20-9 Grizzlies for fourth place in the West and a full four games ahead of the Houston Rockets, who stood in fifth.

As the Warriors prep to host the Rockets tonight (10:30 ET, NBA TV), they still have a four-game lead over Houston in the loss column. But they've been passed by the Denver Nuggets for fifth place and they've lost sight of the Grizzlies, who haven't exactly been tearing it up of late.

So what happened? Well, that top-10 defense turned into a bottom-five defense.

Warriors efficiency

Timeframe W L OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Through Jan. 2 22 10 104.8 9 100.2 9 +4.6 6
Since Jan. 2 8 11 102.8 17 108.4 26 -5.5 25

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

For the season, the Warriors now rank 16th defensively, allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions. And a deeper look at the defensive numbers shows that they've basically regressed across the board ...

Warriors defense

Timeframe Opp2P% Rk Opp3P% Rk DREB% Rk OppTOV% Rk OppFTA Rate Rk
Through Jan. 2 46.3% 7 33.1% 3 75.5% 3 14.0% 26 .300 26
Since Jan. 2 49.7% 21 36.3% 17 72.9% 19 12.9% 29 .267 16

DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = Opponent FTA/FGA

Curry (five games) and Jarrett Jack (three games) have each missed some time in the last month, but not enough to really affect things too much. Bogut has returned, but hasn't yet played many more minutes than he played at the start of the season.

The regression does seem to be somewhat schedule-related. Just nine of the Warriors' first 32 games were against top-10 offensive teams. Of the last 19, another nine have been against those same top-10 offensive teams, with six of those coming on the road.

And on the road is really where the issues have been. In fact, the Warriors have allowed less than a point per possession in home games since Jan. 2. They've just turned into an absolutely atrocious defensive team away from Oracle Arena.

Warriors efficiency

Timeframe W L OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
Home through Jan. 2 11 4 105.4 98.6 +6.8
Road through Jan. 2 11 6 104.2 101.6 +2.6
Home since Jan. 2 5 2 102.6 99.9 +2.8
Road since Jan. 2 3 9 102.9 113.3 -10.3

Those 12 road games in January and February have included visits to the Clippers, Nuggets, Spurs and Thunder. And another four have been the second night of a road-road back-to-back. But the Warriors have been blown out in a handful of games (they've actually been outscored by three points for the season) and the contrast between their 2012 road defense and their 2013 road defense is too stark to dismiss as just a schedule thing.

The good news is that the Warriors are home for 19 of their final 31 games, and that they've got Bogut back to help stabilize the D. The bad news is that they're probably going to start the playoffs on the road, and will have to figure some things out in the next two months.