Warriors

Analysis: To get No. 1 seed, Warriors must summon inner junkyard dog

Analysis: To get No. 1 seed, Warriors must summon inner junkyard dog

OAKLAND -- With 14 minutes of profoundly spectacular basketball, the Warriors on Tuesday climbed from the brink of humiliating defeat to the momentary relief that comes with barely slipping past a vastly inferior team

The optimist might say they preserved any hope of earning the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

The pessimist might say they won a game on their home court, Oracle Arena, over a 76ers team that despite earnest effort ranks among the bottom-five in the NBA.

The realist, however, wonders if the Warriors are capable of making the multifaceted adjustments required to have a reasonable chance of finishing ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and, therefore, gaining the top overall seed.

There is legitimate concern within the Warriors organization, though less so in the locker room, about their ability to finish strong when their entire disposition has been altered by the absence of Kevin Durant.

“It’s on our staff to find the right combinations with the situation we’re in right now, with the changes,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “With KD out, we’ve got to find the right combinations.”

Sure, Durant’s absence -- he has missed two weeks and is expected to miss at least eight more games -- robs the Warriors of their top scorer, top rebounder and top shot blocker. What’s more damaging, though, is the loss of swagger that came with the Warriors knowing they were riding with the most dangerous frontcourt scorer in the league.

The Warriors took a massive machismo hit when Durant went down, and machismo is an exceedingly valuable element in the NBA. It puts the A in Alpha Dog. It’s the difference between knowing you will and believing you can.

Between recognizing what Kevin Durant can do, and realizing nobody else on the roster, or the planet, is an adequate replacement.

The Warriors have played eight games without Durant, going 3-5. The wins were over the Knicks, the Hawks and, on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, the 76ers, who blew a 16-point lead when the Warriors outscored them 32-14 over the final 14 minutes.

That stretch was among the most impressive the Warriors have manufactured this season, and easily the best they’ve looked since Durant went down on Feb. 28.

What they have to do now is prove that those 14 minutes are not merely indicative of a team desperate to avoid ignominious loss but a sign that they are making the adjustments -- mental, physical and psychological -- needed to get to the 65 or so wins required nab the No. 1 seed.

Reverting to the formula used last season, when Durant was in Oklahoma City, is not an option. The roster is dramatically different. Harrison Barnes is gone, and so are Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa, reserves that brought energy and scoring. The Warriors last season had nine players shoot at least 35 percent beyond the arc, and six of them were better than 38 percent. This season, they have five players above 35 percent, three over 38.

Expecting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson fill the scoring void created without Durant’s 25 points is irrational. The trio was combining for more than 70 points per game. No duo in the league is going to provide that.

“That just isn’t going to make itself up,” Draymond Green said late Tuesday night, referring to the lost scoring. “You’ve got to make some of that up on the defensive end. And we haven’t been doing that.”

Unless the defense tightens, and we’ve seen it happen, there is no chance to gaining the top seed. When the Warriors defend, the dictate the action at both ends. The offense comes easier. It won’t be easy without Durant, the team’s best rim protector, but it’s essential.

Getting offense from Green also is crucial. He doesn’t have to reach the 20-point mark, as he did Tuesday night, but he can consistently find his way into double figures, it will put additional stress on defenses.

“If Draymond gives us 15 a night,” said one team official, “I like our chances.”

Which brings us back to Curry and Thompson. Thompson tends to be a bunch scorer, unstoppable some nights, stopping himself on others. He’s going to score, though the game looks easier when he’s relaxed enough to avoid forcing his shot. If Thompson is able to round out his game, to mix in a few more assists and rebounds, that also would put defenders in a bind.

Curry? Well, we know his impact. When he is on, the team’s swagger is unmistakable. If he’s beating his chest, his teammates beat theirs. If Curry gets on a roll, Durant’s absence becomes much easier to mask.

Curry during that 14-minute stretch against Philly scored 12 points, including 3-of-5 from deep. The swagger surfaced even before the Warriors overtook the Sixers. There was a sense from fans and the team that the comeback was assured.

The Warriors summoned their inner junkyard dogs. They were ready to fight. We’re about to see, over these next four weeks, how much bite these dogs have. They’re at the point where they either fight or fall, scrap or sink.

“It’s got to be that way,” Green said late Tuesday night.

“It’s not going to be as pretty as it’s always been. Guys have to understand that and do whatever it takes to win games.”

 

Steph Curry, JaVale McGee make fun bet over Davidson-Nevada game

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AP

Steph Curry, JaVale McGee make fun bet over Davidson-Nevada game

When your alma mater plays the alma mater of your teammate, you have to put a wager on the outcome of the game.

That's exactly what Steph Curry and JaVale McGee have done for Tuesday night's clash between the Davidson Wildcats and Nevada Wolf Pack.

But money isn't on the line. Public embarrassment is, though.

Curry and McGee shared the wager on Twitter ahead of the 7pm PT tip-off.

If Curry's Wildcats win, McGee has to serve as his caddie for one round of golf and the Warriors center can't use a golf cart. He has to walk and carry Curry's clubs. Curry originally suggested three rounds, but lowered the number to one,

If McGee's Wolf Pack win, Curry has to wear a fanny pack to at least three games. McGee is famous for always having a fanny pack around his waist.

https://twitter.com/StephenCurry30/status/933157594268651520

Gilbert Arenas: Steph Curry is not a Top 5 point guard

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AP

Gilbert Arenas: Steph Curry is not a Top 5 point guard

Calm down Warriors fans.

Gilbert Arenas is just looking to make headlines (and it worked).

On the most recent episode of his show "Out of Bounds," Arenas unveiled his Top 5 point guards in the NBA:

1) Chris Paul
2) LeBron James
3) John Wall
4) Damian Lillard
5) Ben Simmons

Just to be clear -- Arenas repeatedly harped on the definition of "point guard" and considers guys like Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook "combo guards" or "scorers."

But obviously, his list is silly and full of contradictions. For one -- Lillard is a "scorer" who is averaging 6.2 assists (Curry is averaging 6.5) and is shooting only 40 percent from the field this season.

"I can't put Curry as a Top 5 point guard," Arenas explained. "You know he hasn't actually led the Golden State Warriors in assists ... you're a guard, you're a scorer ... if I pass the ball to Klay Thompson 15 times ... that means I get six assists a game.

"Then you have KD on your team, pick-and-roll pass it back -- he's gonna make at least six of those. So the fact that you're not averaging 12 assists from just two of these guys, is a problem."

Note to Arenas: Curry led the Warriors in assists in five of his first six seasons.

The other two hosts -- Adam Caparell and Pierce Simpson -- constantly brought it to Arenas' attention that the modern NBA is different and positions are not nearly as defined as they once were.

But Arenas didn't really want to hear any of that.

In his dissection of Harden, Arenas made it very clear that he is not a fan of Harden's turnover numbers.

"If the guy throws 25 passes -- 13 made buckets and 13 turnovers -- he is not considered a great playmaker," Arenas declared. "Thirteen assists compared to his 5.5 turnovers. He's not even 2 to 1 guys. Come on. He's not even 2 to 1. If you're saying a great guard, yes. He's a great guard. Combo guard."

Two things:

1) 13 + 13 = 26
2) 13 to 5.5 actually is greater than 2 to 1. It's 2.36 to 1

Oh well.

Caparell's Top 5:

1) Russell Westbrook
2) Steph Curry
3) Kyrie Irving
4) Damian Lillard
5) James Harden

Simpson's Top 5:

1) James Harden
2) John Wall
3) Russell Westbrook
4) Steph Curry
5) Giannis Antetokounmpo

This was a big waste of time, wasn't it?

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller