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OAKLAND — Throughout the regular season, Warriors forward David West has been a consistent force on a team that was anything but steady.
At age 37, he came off the bench and had one of his best defensive years as a pro. Now, facing the Houston Rockets’ wide-open attack, West is struggling to find his defensive footing in the Western Conference finals.
His latest defensive lapse came in the Warriors’ 127-105 loss in Game 2. With Houston choosing to give fewer minutes to veteran center Nene, West struggled to contain the Rockets’ smaller players. During the first half, West’s inability to keep up allowed Rockets forward P.J. Tucker to make three 3-pointers as Houston led by 14 points at halftime.
“It’s one of those series where they play small,” West said. “There may not be good matchups and its something that we’ve sort of dealt with all year. I just think we got out of sorts. We get out of sorts sometimes, try to overcompensate in certain groups. It got us in trouble.”
West’s performance in Game 2 has been on par for the playoffs. In 12 games, West is posting a 110.1 defensive rating, nearly erasing his output on the offensive end (111.7 rating). On Tuesday night, West posted a 174.8 defensive rating. Because of his struggles guarding the smaller Rockets, West has become a liability.
“David has been good offensively for us, he’s given us hoops, we run a lot of offense through him,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Defensively, the matchup’s different for him because he has to guard a shooter and their floor is spread. It’s just a balance. We’ve got to figure out from game to game if we want to put it him out there.”
West’s troubles on defense are a far cry from the regular season, when he posted a 99.5 defensive rating as a catalyst for a Warriors’ second unit. It remains to be seen whether Kerr will tinker with the lineup. In any case, West vows to remain ready.
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“When I’m out there, I’m going to try to be effective for the time I’m out there,” he said. “I know I can get around the basket and score, try to make them pay. Again, we’re just going to keep it rolling the best way we can. There’s really no secret formula.”
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