I just watched the Knicks game, finally. There was an obvious difference in the Warriors that can only be explained by the arrival of Stephen Jackson.
They were trying extra hard on defense.
Even Baron, who had been relaxing on defense since he was needed so much on offense, was back to the scrappy guard he was in the playoffs. Monta returned to hustling around the perimeter. And you can tell Pietrus is feeling a bit insecure with Jackson back, because he was playing defense like he did his first couple of seasons, almost as if he can see himself tumbling down the rotation.
To be sure, they played against two struggling teams. But their defensive numbers are amazing considering the first six games, the opponents’ offense flowed like Nas over a Timbaland beat. Since Jax return, the Warriors are allowing just 91 points on 41.5 percent shooting, including 8-for-22 from 3-point range, with 20.0 turnovers forced, 11 steals and 5 blocks.
What Jackson does is take away the best perimeter offensive player, pretty much anyone but the center. That allows the rest of teh team to match up against lesser offensive talents. Before, without Jax, the opponents’ best offensive threat was able to break down the defense. Now, with Jax making life tough for the opponents’ star, the Warriors defense isn’t broken down so easily. Now they can rotate better and help more that they aren’t required to stop a star. It’s like having a shutdown corner in football.
The Warriors strength as a team isn’t man-to-man defense, but a pesky and active team defense that takes advantage of the Warriors quickness. But, as Mike Montgomery used to say, at some point, you have to stop somebody. Jackson can do that.