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On the NBA Beat Ep. 2.28: Andy Liu Actually Believes the “Warriors Are Underrated”

Our favorite Golden State Warriors guest, Andy Liu of Warriors World, is back for a record fourth episode to discuss his team with us. After a brief stumble during which they lost five of seven games when Kevin Durant went down with injury, the Warriors look like they’ve righted the ship. They’re currently on a nine-game win streak, including four convincing wins against teams that will make the playoffs in the Western Conference: the Thunder, Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs. Andy explains how a team that has by far the best Net Rating in the NBA, the best Offensive Rating and the second-best Defensive Rating, could possibly even be underrated heading into the playoffs. Check out these golden excerpts from the episode:

7:22-8:09: Andy explains why he never bought into overreaction that the Warriors were collapsing during the team’s recent slump:

“Kevin Durant had just gone down, and these guys were really shook up about it, and they had to adjust. In that adjustment period, Steph couldn’t hit a shot, the worst slump of his entire career. Klay was going through a slump as well. Draymond Green hadn’t shot the ball well all year and still isn’t. So they had a lot of issues on that end. They ended up going 2-5, and they played eight games in 13 nights. Since then, they’ve been great. They’ve also played a ton of trash teams. And the scheduling is going to get better from here. They’ve got six of seven at home to end the season…If there was a Finals game today, [Durant] would be playing, but he’ll be back in a week and a half or two weeks, so the team is fine again. That’s why I was never too worried about it.”

13:40-14:23Next, our guest explores how the Warriors feel about resting their players and whether commissioner Adam Silver’s memo on rest has any impact on Kerr’s coaching decisions:

“Him and Popovich are the greatest at [managing minutes]. If you look at the minutes, Steph, Klay and Dray, those guys average about 33, 34 minutes a game only, and this has been going on for the last two and a half years. He really plays 10, 11 guys no matter what, and he doesn’t like to overexert his players…Here’s the other thing. They also don’t like to rest. Kerr, if he had a choice, would love to, but the players would not allow that, and some of the coaching staff also would like these players to remain in rhythm as well.”

21:10-22:45: From the Warriors perspective, Andy is only really concerned about one potential opponent this postseason. He also highlights which Western Conference upstart the Warriors should probably fear within the next couple seasons.

“LeBron James, that’s about it. Concern. Even though the Cavs aren’t playing well right now…Honestly, it would be kind of disappointing to see if it wasn’t LeBron [in the Finals]…In terms of matching up with the West teams, that’s fun because I think the Jazz are going to be there next year or the year after. I think they’re going to be the one that challenges the Warriors, because they replicate the Grizzlies’ style the most while adding a little more firepower. The Grizzlies had a 2-1 lead over [the Warriors] a couple years ago. They’re able to bang, they’re able to hurt the Warriors…You’ve got the Rockets who want to shoot 3s with the Warriors, which is not happening, so that’s an easy win. That’s the type of team the Warriors love playing. And then you’ve got the Clippers, who the Warriors have owned the last couple of years. And then you’ve got the Spurs, which is obviously the big Bogeyman for the Warriors, who still haven’t beaten [the Warriors] in a playoff series.”

27:00 – 28:47: Finally, our insider asserts that, despite reaching the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons and breaking the single-season wins mark last season, the Warriors somehow have managed to become underrated again.

“I think Draymond’s underrated. I think the Warriors are underrated honestly. People just don’t understand how great this team’s defense is and how great Steph Curry is, because they think he’s just a guy who shoots 3s…They don’t necessarily understand the attention this guy gets on the court. There’s a reason this guy has the best plus-minus of any player by far. Teams throw two, three guys on him and scrubs get layups…And they don’t understand that this team plays defense, because it’s hard to gauge defense, and nobody cares about defense. Nobody wants to break down defense, but you’re watching Draymond Green, and he’s the smartest defensive player in the league. And you’ve got Andre Iguodala. Actually, now I take that back. He might be smarter than Draymond on the defensive end…They’ve got two of those guys on the same team, and then you’ve got Kevin Durant now protecting the rim.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod