Zaza Pachulia

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.

Analysis: Gifted young stars no match for Warriors' group of veteran big men

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USATSI

Analysis: Gifted young stars no match for Warriors' group of veteran big men

When the Warriors brought back 37-year-old David West, 33-year-old Zaza Pachulia and 29-year-old JaVale McGee back for second seasons, the common response was a yawn and a shrug.

OK, fine, maybe that’s enough to do it again. Maybe.

The Warriors stayed pat at center because they liked what they had. Three veterans, none close to All-Star status, dividing playing time were good enough for them to sprint to a record 16-1 postseason and an NBA championship.

At a time when the NBA is rife with gifted young big men, the Super Team Warriors are content with part-timers. Hmm. Weird? Perhaps. Recent results, however, indicate they’re onto something.

The vets, with assistance mostly from firebrand Draymond Green, are teaching harsh lessons to the gifted youth -- and sometimes simply dismissing them from the classroom altogether.

The latest to be schooled by this tag-team was Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday night. His name may be the most popular answer to the hypothetical question: If you could pick any player to start a franchise, which would you choose?

Towns played 27 minutes, his second-lowest total of the season. He gave the Timberwolves 16 points, on 5-of-11 shooting, and 12 rebounds. The man who shoots 55.4 percent and averages 22 and 11 didn’t quite disappear, but he was barely there.

Before Towns there was Hassan Whiteside, averaging 18.3 points and 14 rebounds when coming into Oakland with the Miami Heat on Monday. He’s coming off a season in which he was the league’s No. 1 rebounder and a top-10 paint scorer.

Whiteside lost his courage early, lost it so transparently that Heat coach Eric Spoelstra benched him for good barely a minute into the third quarter -- after Pachulia opened the half by scoring four points in 59 seconds. Whiteside lasted all of 16 minutes, delivering three points (1-of-9 shooting), six rebounds and one block.

Some of this forgettable performance was on Whiteside; he’s a head case. But some of it was his reaction to the opposition.

Whiteside had 21 points and 17 rebounds one night earlier, against Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan. Two nights after being stifled by the Warriors, Whiteside hung 23 and 10, with four blocks, on the Suns.

Before Towns and Whiteside, there was Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who in the six games before facing the Warriors averaged 20.1 points and 14.7 rebounds. And that’s with an 8-point game in which he had 16 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Warriors never let Jokic get anything close to a rhythm. Facing different looks from four different players, five when Kevin Durant got involved, he played a season-low 20 minutes and finished with 8 points on 2-of-6 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.

Three nights later, Jokic lit up the Nets for 41 points, along with 12 rebounds and five assists -- all before fouling out in 31 minutes.

That’s one of the telltale signs. The gifted youth look like stars before facing the Warriors and against afterward. The NBA’s Player Efficiency Ratings has Towns, Whiteside and Jokic all among the top 12. They’re fabulous.

The Pachulia-West-McGee tag team puts up terrific numbers, combining for 15.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Their collective field-goal percentage is 58.4. West is ninth in PER, while Pachulia and McGee are posting strong plus-minus numbers.

They offer little in the way of spectacle, aside from McGee’s soaring slams that bring citizens of JaVale Nation coming out of their seats. They are, McGee included, decidedly blue-collar but highly effective, kind of like reliable pickup trucks.

It’s early, yes, but Pachulia, West and McGee have been precisely what the Warriors need. They’re budget friendly, combining for less than $8 million in salary. They have different skills, span the athletic spectrum and give coach Steve Kerr and his staff a lot of flexibility at center.

They’re shining right now, and here comes another youngster to test them: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, if healthy, will step into the classroom Saturday.

Gameday: Coming off road sweep, it's go time for Warriors

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AP

Gameday: Coming off road sweep, it's go time for Warriors

OAKLAND -- Coming home after a three-game road sweep, it’s Go Time for the Warriors as they begin a four-game homestand Monday night against the Miami Heat at Oracle Arena.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.

After a ragged start to the season, the Warriors (7-3) have cranked up their defensive intensity and limited their turnovers while maintaining terrific marksmanship. They’re shooting 52.6 percent from the field, tops in the NBA.

Miami (4-5), playing the third game of a six-game road trip, is coming off a 104-101 victory over the Clippers on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 15.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Zaza Pachulia & Co. vs. Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside is averaging 18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game. He had 21 points and 17 rebounds, with three steals and two blocks in LA on Sunday. The 7-footer led the league in rebounding last season, led it in blocks the season before. Expect the Warriors to offer different looks, including double-teams. They’ll rely mostly on Pachulia’s bulk and JaVale McGee’s length, while also giving Draymond Green and David West a few turns.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed. C David West (Rest) is out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Heat: G Dion Waiters (Paternity leave) and G/F Rodney McGruder (L tibia surgery) are listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won eight of the last 11 meetings and four of the last six in Oakland. The teams split the two-game series last season.

OFFICIALS

Brian Forte (lead), Mark Ayotte and Dedric Taylor.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

RUNNING THE BREAK: The Warriors are at their best when the defense triggers their devastating transition game. They lead the league in fast-break points. The catch here is that Miami plays some of the best transition in the NBA. Only the Bucks have allowed fewer fast-break points. The Heat’s ability to clog offense is why the Warriors have posted only one double-digit win over the last four meetings.

HOME RUN: The Warriors are only 2-2 at home this season, a steep drop from recent seasons. They lost a total of nine games at Oracle over the past three seasons and didn’t take their third loss at Oracle until January. Their home dominance is a matter of pride, so they’ll be out to avoid the slow starts and lulls that have plagued them at home this season.

ENTER THE DRAGON: It’s always a delight when two tremendous point guards go after each other, and that will be the case with Miami’s dynamic Goran Dragic and two-time MVP Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Both are shooting just under 50 percent from the field and just over 40 percent beyond the arc. If Dragic can offset Curry, the Heat can make things interesting.