The Warriors face off against the Trailblazers in a big early match up between two strong teams in the West. Damian Lillard, the Portland star, isn’t the least be worried about the new Warriors team, which is touted by most analysts to be the clear favorite for the title this year.
When asked about the new squad in the Bay Area, Lillard couldn’t deny their offensive strength but questioned the defensive capabilities of the team. Via CSNNW:
“It’s not the same. They are a great offensive team and I think they will still be a good defensive team, but it’s different than when (Andrew) Bogut is not back there. It’s just not the same.’’
“Watching their game against New Orleans, watching their game against Phoenix — both teams attacked the paint a lot. They were attacking rim, attacking the rim, and it kept both teams in the game, so we have to do the same thing.’’
Bogut was an extremely important part of the Warriors team last year, and his injury in the Finals was a key part of how they became the first team to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals. He had to be moved to make cap space to sign Kevin Durant, but his replacement, Zaza Pachulia, hasn’t been able to offer the defensive abilities that Bogut did.
Lillard thinks Pachulia’s inability to defend the paint well is the weakness that needs to be exploited to beat the Warriors:
“I feel confident in my ability to attack whoever, but in a lot of those plays, Draymond [Green] likes to help from the weakside … and I saw him sprinting to (Mason Plumlee) to deny, which meant nobody was in the paint. I was taking advantage of that.
“It’s different when you don’t have a guy like Andrew Bogut in that paint. He controlled that paint really well for them on the backside of that defense, so (in that preseason game) I felt good about getting to the rim.’’
There’s no denying that the Warriors are set up to be the best scorers in the league. But the lack of a defensive general like Bogut opens them up in a way that they weren’t exposed last year. Only time will tell if the trade off was worth it.