Warriors

Gameday: Solid shooting guard battle between Gary Harris, Klay Thompson

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AP

Gameday: Solid shooting guard battle between Gary Harris, Klay Thompson

OAKLAND -- With Kevin Durant on the sideline, the Warriors are riding Stephen Curry and he has delivered. That same formula may be in effect Monday night, when they face the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors (32-8) have won four straight since Curry, who missed 11 games, returned on Dec. 30. Curry remains on the injury list, along with fellow starter Draymond Green, but both are likely to play. Durant, though, could miss his third consecutive game.

The Nuggets (21-18) should have the full attention of the Warriors, as they held the defending champs to a season-low 81 points last month at Oracle Arena. By winning that game, Denver is the only team already assured of beating the Warriors at least once in each of Steve Kerr’s first four seasons as coach.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 10.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Jamal Murray: Murray has spent the season solidifying his status as Denver’s starting point guard. The second-year player is only 20 but plays with the confidence of a vet. He played well in beating the Warriors last month, but he didn’t have to contend with Curry, who was on the injured list. The two-time MVP is back and he has been blistering everyone in his path.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Omri Casspi (hip contusion), G Stephen Curry (L knee soreness), F Draymond Green (R knee soreness), F Andre Iguodala (L knee and hip soreness) and G Shaun Livingston (hip tightness) are available to play. F Kevin Durant (R calf strain) is OUT. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Nuggets: F Paul Millsap (L wrist ligament surgery) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Nuggets: 5-5.

GAME OFFICIALS

Bill Kennedy (crew chief), Marat Kogut, Derek Richardson

SERIES HISTORY

The teams split the first two of four meetings this season, with the Warriors taking a 127-108 win on Nov. 4 at Denver and the Nuggets posting a 96-81 win on Dec. 23 in Oakland. The Warriors won two of three last season and have won nine of the last 13 overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE GLASS WARS: The Nuggets have been and continue to be one of the league’s best offensive rebounding teams and have used that to hurt the Warriors in the past. They lead the NBA in second-chance points (14.8 per game) and piled up 18 in their last trip to Oakland. If the Warriors don’t block out, they’ll pay.

THE SHOOTING GUARDS: Klay Thompson hasn’t had many awful games this season, but he has struggled against Denver, scoring 15 points in each game, shooting 36.4, including 25.0 percent from deep. Denver’s big guard, Gary Harris, has done a solid job using physicality to deny Thompson. Can this be reversed?

JAVALE ETC.: The rotation of big men is fluid, with only Zaza Pachulia and David West getting stable minutes. What’s left goes to Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney and JaVale McGee -- in that order. McGee’s DNP-CD count is at nine, with five coming in the last four weeks. He could he see time against his former team as the Warriors consider trade options.

Warriors reminded of Stephen Curry's importance in Game 4 loss to Spurs

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AP

Warriors reminded of Stephen Curry's importance in Game 4 loss to Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Warriors were comfortable going into the first round of the playoffs without Stephen Curry. Logic dictated they would prevail with relative ease against a Spurs team without Kawhi Leonard.

And after winning each of the first three games by double digits, a sweep seemed probable as the Warriors approached Game 4 on Sunday.

But they were out of sorts from the start, undoing their cause with a cascade of turnovers and uncharacteristically poor shooting. They did a lot wrong in in a 103-90 loss, but much of it could have been righted by the presence of Curry.

The potential closeout game was the first time in the series that Curry was missed in a massive way. He’s still a week or more away from returning, but the Warriors are smart enough to know their margin for error shrinks considerably when he’s not on the court.

It was profoundly evident, once again, on Sunday that when Curry is out, the game becomes harder for his teammates, and the Warriors could not fill the scoring void.

Kevin Durant made a valiant effort, scoring a game-high 34 points, but was 12-of-28 from the field. The 28 attempts are more than he has had in all but two of 151 games since he joined the Warriors.

“They did a good job of being physical with us on our movement and taking us out of some of our actions,” Durant said.

Klay Thompson, incredible through the first three games, was contained as much by the shortcomings of the Warriors’ offense -- too many possessions with poor ball movement and too few transition opportunities -- as a more tenacious San Antonio defense. Under the added pressure, he was 4-of-16 from the field.

“When we don’t execute, it’s harder for Klay to get open looks,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Where do you take 16 shots? I only remember two or three of them open. When we play the way we normally do, when we defend with a purpose, when the ball moves, Klay tends to get more open looks.”

Thompson also gets more open looks when Curry is on the floor drawing opposing defenses like a magnet. Multiple defenders routinely cheat toward him, and the result is an open look for a teammate.

Without him, and with the Spurs boosting their physicality, the Warriors struggled to score. In the 66 postseason games since Kerr arrived, only twice have the Warriors failed to crack 90 points, most recently in losing Game 7 of The Finals in 2016.

Game 4 on Sunday represents the first time in 21 postseason games, since Durant’s arrival, that the Warriors did not reach 100 points.

Draymond Green was 4-of-14 from the field. Andre Iguodala was 0-of-3. The starting lineup shot 34.3 percent (23 of 67) and the team as a whole was at 37.8 percent, its lowest since the 2016 Finals.

“They definitely pressured a lot at the start of the game,” Draymond Green said. “But we eventually got through that.

“But you got to give them a lot of credit. They came out and they probably played with more intensity this game than they did the entire series and they were able to get a win.”

This was only one game, one loss in a game they surely wanted to win. But it put a spotlight on the vulnerability of the Warriors without Curry.

If the Spurs, even for one game, can lock up the Warriors -- with help from the Warriors, of course -- the Pelicans, with defensive aces Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, surely long for a couple shots at the champs without Curry, whose status for the next round is in question.

The Warriors are a great team, a championship team. The Curry effect, however, is necessary for the Warriors to win it all this season. This loss is a stinging rebuttal to the argument that they don’t need him to do so.

Will Warriors sweep Spurs for second straight postseason?

Will Warriors sweep Spurs for second straight postseason?

SAN ANTONIO -- The Warriors will try to complete a four-game sweep here for the second consecutive postseason when they face the Spurs on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Center.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 11:30 a.m., with postgame coverage immediately after the final horn. The game telecast is on ABC.

Though the Warriors have dominated the series thus far, winning all three games by double digits, they expect the Spurs, still reeling from the death of coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, to put up a spirited fight to avoid elimination. Popovich missed Game 3 and also will miss Game 4.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 7

MATCHUP TO WATCH

JaVale McGee & Co. vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge is San Antonio’s horse and he must have a stellar game to give his team any chance of winning. The Spurs have tried several tricks to get him going, with success only in Game 2, when Aldridge scored 34 points. The Warriors will start McGee, who will alternate with their platoon of big men in trying to contain Aldridge.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Shaun Livinston (L ankle sprain) is listed as probable. G Stephen Curry (L MCL sprain) and G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) are listed as out.

Spurs: F Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is listed as out.

SERIES TO DATE

Game 1: Warriors 113, Spurs 92 Game 2: Warriors 116, Spurs 101 Game 3: Warriors 110, Spurs 97

GAME OFFICIALS

Scott Foster (crew chief), Tony Brothers, Brian Forte, Dedric Taylor (alternate)

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won three of four in the regular season, 112-92 on Nov. 2 at San Antonio, 122-105 on Feb. 10 in Oakland and 110-107 on March 8 in Oakland before losing 89-75 on March 19 in San Antonio. The Warriors swept the Spurs in the 2017 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are 14-6 (including postseason) against San Antonio in the Steve Kerr era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

SPURS ENGAGEMENT LEVEL: As if the loss of Erin Popovich was not enough to weigh down their hearts, the Spurs also are staring at the kind of deficit no team has overcome. How far can pride carry an overmatched team? Do they have the grit to summon their best under such adverse conditions?

WARRIORS IN THE MOMENT: Being so dominating in the first three games and already aware that their second-round opponent will be New Orleans, the Warriors will have to fight off overconfidence. Can they stay focused for 48 minutes against a team they’ve beaten seven consecutive times in the postseason?

THE ARC: Through three games, the Warriors have been riding their defense and letting the offense come as a result. The Spurs lack a naturally potent offense and further diminished by their inability to make 3-pointers. The Warriors have held them to 24.1-percent shooting from deep. It’s tough to win like that.