Warriors

Gameday: With no Durant, keep your eyes on Klay vs Jimmy Butler

klay-jimmy-ap.jpg
AP

Gameday: With no Durant, keep your eyes on Klay vs Jimmy Butler

OAKLAND -- Two of the hottest teams in the NBA collide Wednesday night, when the Warriors, without Kevin Durant, face the remodeled Minnesota Timberwolves at Oracle Arena.

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

Durant came away limping after taking a knee to his left thigh on the Warriors’ first offensive possession Monday against Miami. He played through it, but soreness kept him out of practice Tuesday and will sideline him Wednesday.

Andre Iguodala will start in place on Durant, head coach Steve Kerr announced two hours before tip-off.

The Warriors (8-3), who have won their last four games, faced the Timberwolves (7-3) twice during their preseason sojourn to China. This is the first of three meetings in the regular season.

Minnesota in the offseason brought in eight new faces, including three starters, in its quest to enter the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons -- the longest active postseason drought in the NBA.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson & Co. vs. Jimmy Butler: Butler is among the new acquisitions and Wolves quickly discovered his value when they were blown out in the two games he missed. They haven’t lost since the former Bulls All-Star returned on Oct. 27. Though Thompson will get the bulk of the defensive assignment, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala will take their turns.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L thigh contusion) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Timberwolves: C Justin Patton (L foot surgery) is listed as out.

OFFICIALS

Ken Mauer (crew chief), Derrick Collins, Gediminas Petraitis.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won three of four meetings last season and have won 17 of the last 20.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

TRACKING THE KAT: Wolves C Karl-Anthony Towns may be the best of the talented young big men to confront the Warriors of late. The 7-footer is averaging 20.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over the past five games. He’s fabulous on the block but also capable of launching the 3. The Warriors could’ve used Durant’s length but will have to settle for whatever they get from Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, Jordan Bell, a dash of David West and Green. This could be a low-minutes game for Pachulia. Best bet: get Towns in foul trouble.

ATTACK THE PAINT: Opponents are shooting 49.5 percent against the Wolves, making them dead last in field-goal percentage defense. They do a decent job defending the arc (35.1 percent, 11th in the league) but can be vulnerable against half-court sets and particularly in transition. Only two teams allow more points in the paint and only one allows more off fast breaks.

THE ROTATION FILES: This will be intriguing, as Warriors coach Steve Kerr continues to search for the right rotations. The Timberwolves are rife with cross-matching possibilities. Durant’s absence will hurt. Aside from presuming either Stephen Curry or Thompson will be on the floor at all times, it’ll be interesting to see how and when Kerr deploys his bench.

Report: KD wants to own an NBA team

kd-lacob-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Report: KD wants to own an NBA team

Kevin Durant figures to have a good chunk of his career ahead of him, but he's already thinking of his next move.

Durant is only 29-years-old, but is already in the midst of his 11th NBA season. For his post-basketball life, the reigning Finals MVP has his sights set on NBA ownership.

Over his last 18 months as a member of the Golden State Warriors, Durant's increasingly yearned to own an NBA team, according to a report from ESPN's Chris Haynes. 

"[This] is a genuine goal of his after he retires, to add another African-American in the position of majority ownership," a league source told Haynes under the condition of anonymity. 

Currently, Michael Jordan is the only African-American majority owner in the league. Durant said he would also like to see more African-Americans in front office roles. 

"[Jordan] was the first big Nike athlete, the biggest star of his time, but if you don't have the trajectory, that path, that journey, it's going to be hard to do what he did," Durant told ESPN. "But you can still affect the NBA and the game of basketball in a different way. You don't have to be an owner.

"I think it should be more guys in the positions of power like general managers and scouts and coaches. Anything that involves the day-to-day operations of these franchises. I think more players and more experienced players should be in those positions."

Durant and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, have met with multiple tech executives and team owners in order to "learn the lay of the land," Haynes wrote. 

He's not the only former MVP on the Warriors with ownership aspirations, either. Stephen Curry tweeted last month he wanted in on Sean "Diddy" Combs' prospective bid for the Carolina Panthers, and Curry told ESPN last month he's "really serious" about the opportunity. 

Gameday: Intensity, fury rages as Warriors visit Cavaliers in rivalry's next chapter

warriors-gameday-cavaliers.jpg
USATSI

Gameday: Intensity, fury rages as Warriors visit Cavaliers in rivalry's next chapter

The Warriors will have their full squad available Monday when they wrap up their season series with the longtime rival Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

The teams have met in the last three NBA Finals, with the Warriors winning twice.

The Warriors (35-9) are coming off an impressive back-to-back road sweep, winning at Milwaukee on Friday and at Toronto on Saturday. Their regular starting lineup -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green -- will be together for only the fourth time in the last six weeks.

The Cavaliers (26-16) have stumbled lately, losing seven of their last nine. Isaiah Thomas, acquired in the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in August, made his debut on Jan. 3 and will be playing his fourth game as a member of the Cavaliers.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James: The top two forwards, and conceivably the two best players, in the game today. The Warriors are 5-2 against Cleveland since Durant was acquired to offset James. James is No. 3 in scoring (27.1 per game), Durant No. 5 (26.3). Both are efficient scoring machines. James is rebounding better (8.0-7.0), Durant blocking more shots (2.14-1.07). When these two clash, it’s hard to take your eyes off them. Durant asks to defend James and won the battle when the teams met on Christmas Day in Oakland.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Omri Casspi (low back soreness), F Andre Iguodala (hip flexor strain) and G Shaun Livingston (L shin contusion) have been upgraded to available.

Cavaliers: G Derrick Rose (L ankle sprain) and G Iman Shumpert (L knee surgery rehab) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Cavaliers: 3-7.

GAME OFFICIALS

Scott Foster (crew chief), Marat Kogut, Eric Lewis

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first of two meetings this season, 99-92, on Christmas Day in Oakland. The teams split two meetings last season. The Warriors have won five of the last seven regular-season meetings and 11 of the last 14. They have won 11 of 18 NBA Finals games played in the last three years.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE POINT MEN: Neither Curry nor Thomas played on Christmas Day, so it’ll be intriguing to see them renew a battle that dates back to Thomas’ days in Sacramento. Curry generated dominated the matchup, though Thomas has since made the leap from good to great offensive player. One thing remains, though: Thomas remains among the league’s worst defenders.

INTENSITY LEVELS: Because of the history, the air crackles with fury when these teams meet. That won’t change anytime soon. But the Cavaliers, having beaten the Warriors only once in the last seven meetings, should be particularly fierce. This game means more to Cleveland than it does to the Warriors. Will the Warriors be able to match the intensity they’ll face inside the Q?

THE ARC: The 3-ball almost certainly will be crucial in this game. The Cavs are third in 3-pointers made (513), while the Warriors are fifth at 505. But the Warriors are more accurate, shooting at 38.9 percent to Cleveland’s 37.2. The Warriors are slightly better at defending the arc and, on the other end, can use ball movement to stress the Cavs’ relatively slow defenders.