Blazers’ Damian Lillard reacts to playing star-less Warriors
NBA fans aren’t the only ones surprised at how quickly things have come apart at the seams for the Golden State Warriors. After losing Kevin Durant in free agency, Klay Thompson to an ACL tear, Stephen Curry to a broken hand and Draymond Green to an injury to a ligament in his finger, players are taking notice of the team’s depleted roster as well.
Damian Lillard, the star point guard for the Portland Trailblazers told Wes Goldberg of The Mercury News how strange it feels playing a Golden Sate team without the familiar faces.
Damian Lillard on playing the Warriors tonight:
"You don’t expect to see them go from being such a huge deal with their super team, to one guy leaves and injuries and just an unfortunate situation. … It’s kind of weird to see them not as the Warriors right now."
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) November 4, 2019
On Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets, the Warriors were also missing 2019 All Star D’Angelo Russell—who was traded to Golden State in the sign-and-trade that sent Durant to the Brooklyn Nets—with an ankle injury. This forced head coach Steve Kerr to trot out a startling lineup of Ky Bowman, Jordan Poole, Glenn Robinson III, Eric Paschall and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Green is only expected to miss a few games, he’s expected to travel with the team on a three-game trip to Houston, Minnesota and Oklahoma City from Wednesday to Saturday — even if he’s not ready to return to the court.
However, even with him and Russell healthy, Golden State is just a shadow of their former self. After winning three titles in five years, and starting two MVP candidates the Warriors are sitting at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference with a 1-5 record.
Golden State’s record is not only a product of their offense, which is about league average (they’re 16th in points per game), but the defensive end is where they’ve fallen off the hardest, a 117.3 defensive rating, the worst in the league.
Meanwhile while it’s very early in the season, Lillard’s Blazers are sitting just outside of the playoff picture with three wins and three losses. The point guard is also averaging 29.8 points per game, the third most in the league.