Warriors

After leaving season opener early, Draymond, Casspi miss Warriors practice

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USATSI

After leaving season opener early, Draymond, Casspi miss Warriors practice

The Warriors opened their season Tuesday night with a loss in which they looked considerably worse than what is expected of a defending champion.

What’s worse is that they also feel it.

Though Andre Iguodala’s back strain recovered enough for him to participate in practice for the first time in a week, Draymond Green’s right knee sprain and Omri Casspi’s left ankle sprain kept them on the sideline Wednesday.

While Green awaits the results of an MRI test, Casspi was limited to individual shooting drills. The availability of both is in doubt for the game Friday night against the Pelicans in New Orleans.

Casspi, a reserve forward, has sustained injuries to both ankles in a five-day span and even if he’s able to play he won’t be at full strength.

Green simply will not return to the lineup until he’s able, though Kerr sounded optimistic about his chances this weekend.

“I don’t think it’s serious,” Kerr said. “But we’ll see.”

If Casspi can’t play, the bench thins along the front line. It would mean more minutes for the likes of Kevon Looney and Pat McCaw.

If Green can’t play, well, that makes a massive impact that runs from the starting lineup all the way through the reserves. His intensity, production and communication are important to the Warriors at both ends of the court.

Some of that would be mitigated by the return of Iguodala, who may be more optimistic than Kerr about his chances of playing Friday.

“If Andre is banged up, he won’t play,” Kerr said. We’ll just make do with what we have.

“Hopefully, Andre will be OK. He’s been getter better every day. He’s pretty confident that he’s on the right track. So hopefully, he’ll play.”

Considering there is a game against the Grizzlies in Memphis less than 20 hours after the final buzzer in New Orleans, the issue is not whether the defending champs will have their roster taxed but to what degree.

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

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USATSI

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

When it rains, it pours for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After starting the season 24-9, they have cratered. Including two losses to the Warriors and one to the Kings, the Cavs are 3-8 over their last 11 games.

During the stretch, they suffered through a four-game losing streak and nearly blew a 23-point lead against the Magic on Thursday.

But nothing was worse than what happened in front of a national TV audience on Saturday. The visiting Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into Quicken Loans Arena and hung 148 points on the defending Eastern Conference champs and won by 24 points.

Saturday's performance was so bad, former Cavs head coach David Blatt took a shot at them before coaching the Team Europe in the Turkish Basketball Super League All-Star Game in Instabul.

Asked by a sideline reporter for his thoughts on the game he was about to coach, Blatt offered this:

"Well, I don't think we're going to have any problem scoring. I'm just wondering if we're going to defend anybody. That's what I'm worried about," Blatt said.

The reporter followed up by asking for his expectation of the final score. That's when Blatt threw a haymaker at the team that fired him during the 2015-16 season despite a 30-11 record.

"Well, I hope we don't give up as many points as the Cavaliers did last night," Blatt said.

Ouch.

Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.

Clint Capela claims Rockets are better than Warriors; champs not worried

Clint Capela claims Rockets are better than Warriors; champs not worried

The Rockets are riding high after their 116-108 win over the Warriors on Saturday night.

Maybe a little too high.

After the game, starting center Clint Capela had some bold things to say about the rivalry.

"We're confident because we know if we're doing what we're supposed to do, we're going to beat them. We've got to keep playing. We know that they're going to come back if we have the lead, and we've just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we're doing what we're supposed to do on defense -- all the switches, the weak side -- and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them. We are better than them," Capela told ESPN after the game in Houston.

The young big man doubled down.

"We're definitely the best in the league with everybody healthy. We've definitely got a chance to get that 1-seed back. The thing is, of course, we're excited because it's the Warriors, but Monday is an important game, too. If we lose and the [Warriors] win their game, what was the point? The next game, every single time, is going to be the key to go get the No. 1, first seed," Capela told ESPN.

Guard Eric Gordon didn't go as far, but still compared the Rockets favorably to the Warriors.

"Offensively, we're just as good as them, no question. Defensively, they're a championship team. They're consistent, whether they win or lose. Us, we still have peaks and valleys. We just can't have those. That's why we've got to play well the next game, because we just have to sustain the same effort," Gordon said via ESPN.

The Rockets won the season-series with the Warriors by taking two out of the three meetings. They now trail the Warriors by 3.5 games in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference.

But are they really better than the defending NBA champs? Are the Warriors worried at all about the Rockets?

"The season starts over when you're in the playoffs anyway, so it doesn't matter. You're going to have to get through these teams to get to where you want to go. You have to play at home and on the road, so it really doesn't matter. We just want to be playing good basketball when it comes down to that point," Warriors forward Kevin Durant told ESPN after the game.

Draymond Green really didn't want to hear about home-court advantage.

"It's game 40-what? Seven, eight? Who we play on Tuesday? We just got to get ready for [New York]. Home court will take care of itself down the road," told reporters after the game.

With no more meetings during the regular season, the next time the two teams could meet, assuming they finish with the top two seeds, is in the Western Conference Finals. So we'll have to wait until May to see if the Rockets can back up the tough talk.