OAKLAND -- They are the designated defenders, on the court to provide the foundation and tools to ensure the Warriors are staunch on that end. It's a job they acknowledge and in which they take immense pride.
Why, then, is it that two games into the Western Conference semifinals we are watching Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala wreck the defense of the Houston Rockets?
Green is averaging 14.5 points -- nearly doubling his 7.4 points per game in the regular season. He's shooting 68.4 percent.
After averaging 5.7 points in the regular season, Iguodala is at an even 15 against Houston, on 75 percent (12-of-16) shooting.
The simple answer, which includes plenty of truth, is that the Rockets are paying so much attention to the usual scorers -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson -- that they are creating openings for Green and Iguodala to exploit.
But there's more to it. Both players possess powerhouse basketball intellect, seeing the game before it unfolds and feeling it in real time. And both have primed themselves to be at their physical best in the postseason.
The result has been Green throwing lobs to Iguodala, a combo rarely seen in the regular season.
Iguodala, though, has been the bigger surprise because he fought nagging injuries in the regular season and turned 35 in January. Yet he's in the starting lineup, hitting jump shots and posing a lob threat. His 19 dunks lead all postseason players – yes, including Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo.
"He's better right now, in this postseason, than he has been in years -- regular season or postseason," Green said of Iguodala on Thursday. "It's a special thing. As bouncy as he is and the defense that he is playing and the confidence that he's exuding on the offensive end, he's just been an all-around great player for us."
The bonus for the Warriors is that Iguodala's offense has not come at the expense of his primary job, which is keeping James Harden from taking over games with his scoring. Harden is averaging 32 points, but he's shooting 38.2 percent, mostly because of Iguodala.
"It's easy to see we definitely missed him last year," Klay Thompson said of Iguodala, who sustained a knee injury in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals and missed the final four games. "We're so happy to have him healthy. He's an amazing player, does everything well."
Green has been no less of a difference-maker. The bonus, though, is that he has done much more than grab rebounds (team-high 10.5) and deny lobs to Houston center Clint Capela.
"He's in better shape than he has been all year," coach Steve Kerr said.
That has translated into Green pushing the offense at a pace fast enough to challenge Houston's transition defense. When the Rockets Houston scramble back, they have to make a decision that presents a dilemma.
Give Draymond the coast-to-coast layup, or spread out to keep Curry, Durant, and Thompson dropping 3-point grenades?
Nobody recognizes that better than Green, who has 16 assists in the two games.
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The Rockets will search for adjustments ahead of Game 3 on Saturday. It won't be easy. They have to like the fact that they haven't been blown off the floor by long-range artists Curry and Thompson.
Yet they're still 0-2 in the series in part because they're being outfoxed by the fact Green and Iguodala generating enough offense to win games.