The Golden State Warriors faced another test of adaptability going up against the Miami Heat without Klay Thompson, who was rested Tuesday. This coming just two games after an illness was close to cutting him out of the lineup against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
The Warriors managed to walk away with a 107-95 win, but not without another all-around performance by the team’s defensive anchor, Draymond Green, who had 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks while trying to contain a monster on the block on Hassan Whiteside.
The Heat’s 7-footer punished Golden State on the glass, gobbling 20 rebounds to go along with an efficient 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting from the field.
After connecting on 11 of his first 13 field goals, Whiteside was stopped by Green in back-to-back possessions during the fourth quarter, allowing the Warriors to bring the lead to double digits.
“In many ways, he’s our most important player,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Green prior to the game.
While the Warriors offense has torched teams alive in this and previous seasons, the system is still predicated on defense — switching, communicating, and being accountable — traits that all start and end with Green as the team’s best all-around defender.
An off day for Green on the defensive end would potentially signify the Warriors giving out transition baskets or points in the paint — making him a key cog that starts with defense and transitions into the rest of the game.
The Warriors (33-6) will host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday as the back end of TNT’s double-header.