Warriors

Gameday: Steph Curry returns for Warriors vs Raptors in Toronto

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USATSI

Gameday: Steph Curry returns for Warriors vs Raptors in Toronto

The Warriors have Stephen Curry back in the lineup Saturday, when they face the Toronto Raptors in a game that meets all the requirements of a shootout.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 3:30 p.m., with tipoff at Air Canada Centre scheduled for 4:35.

The Warriors (34-9) will be on second night of a back-to-back set, having prevailed against the Bucks on Friday night in Milwaukee. Curry was on the sideline for the second consecutive game but likely will play in one of his favorite arenas, having become familiar with it as child when he father, Dell, was a member of the Raptors.

The Raptors have never won more than 56 games (2015-16) but at 29-11 are on pace to win 59. They have been particularly tough at home, where their 15-2 record is the best in the Eastern Conference.

The Warriors lead the league in scoring (115.6 points per game), while Toronto is third (112.1).

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 4

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. DeMar DeRozan: These two All-Stars are quite familiar with each other dating back to their days as teenagers in the Los Angeles area. Thompson is arguably best two-way shooting guard in the league, and DeRozan has become an offensive machine, averaging 25.0 points per game, trailing only Houston’s James Harden (who also grew up in LA) among shooting guards. They offset each other in the last meeting and if that happens again, it’s advantage Warriors.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Omri Casspi (back soreness) out.

Raptors: G Kyle Lowry (bruised tailbone) is listed as questionable.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2.

Raptors: 7-3.

GAME OFFICIALS

Tony Brothers, Courtney Kirkland, Gediminas Petraitis

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first of two meetings this season, 117-112, on Oct. 25 at Oracle Arena. The Warriors swept both games last season, have won seven in a row and 15 of the last 17 meetings.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE HOT ZONES: The Warriors have been terrific on the road, the Raptors fabulous at home. Toronto since Nov. 5 has lost only once at Air Canada Centre, by a single point to Miami on Jan 9, and responded with a 34-point rout of the Cavaliers. The Warriors are an NBA-best 18-3 on the road and have won 11 in a row, by an average of 11.5 points.

BALL SECURITY: The Warriors are a high-turnover team (15.8 per game). The Raptors commit fewer turnovers (13.5 per, fourth fewest in the league) and are good at forcing them and making opponents pay. Toronto is averaging a league-best 19.3 points per game off turnovers. If the Warriors are sloppy, it will cost them.

BENCH WARS: The Warriors and Raptors have the most effective benches in the league, ranking 1-2 in net rating. The Warriors are first in offensive rating (111.3), the Raptors (107.9) third. The Raptors are third in defensive rating (100.2), the Warriors (103.0) eighth. Toronto’s bench scored 76 points in its last game (vs. Cleveland). Center Jakob Poeltl and forward Pascal Siakam have been impactful.

DeRozan fined by NBA for comments made after Raptors' loss to Warriors

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USATSI

DeRozan fined by NBA for comments made after Raptors' loss to Warriors

Following Toronto's 127-125 loss to the Warriors on Saturday night, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan wasn't happy.

His team had almost erased a 27-point deficit and he felt like the officials were helping the Warriors.

"It's frustrating being out there feeling like you're playing 5-on-8. Some of those calls were terrible, period," DeRozan told reporters after the game.

As you might imagine, the NBA wasn't thrilled with thoses comments and fined DeRozan $15,000 on Tuesday for public criticism of the officiating.

DeRozan's incident is the latest in a long list of greivances between the players and the officials. The two sides met face-to-face in late December and plan to meet again during All-Star weekend in February to discuss the growing tension.

Warriors tease in first half, then torture Cavs

Warriors tease in first half, then torture Cavs

After all the battles over the past three years, the exchanging of championships and champagne celebrations, the Warriors truly respect the Cavaliers and give honest props to LeBron James for being a great player.

But the Warriors have moved beyond the days of considering the Cavs a legitimate threat to rob them of their goals. That much was evident in the first half of their 118-108 victory Monday night in Cleveland.

“I was a little upset at halftime just because we weren’t guarding anybody,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Quicken Loans Arena. “We didn’t play with much intensity.”

The Warriors spent the first quarter lounging about at scrimmage speed. They could’ve wearing robes and smoking pipes. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry combined for six shots. There wasn’t much sweat at all, yet the offense was effective: 35 points, 56.5-percent shooting and 11 assists on their 13 buckets.

The offense slowed to a crawl in the second quarter, as the Warriors managed only eight field goals while shooting 36.4 percent.

And Warriors defense was a rumor throughout the half, during which Cleveland shot 56.5 percent.

“We kind of let them do whatever they wanted in that first half,” Klay Thompson said.

That’s not the way Cavs big man Kevin Love saw it.

“We played well in the first half,” he summarized.

Fools gold. Cleveland went into the locker room with a seven-point lead, 64-57, in part because a Kevin Durant live-ball turnover in the final seconds resulted in at least a four-point swing.

Once the Warriors actually arrived in the second half, the blowout was on. They poured in 56 points in a little more than 20 minutes, during which time Cleveland managed only 35 points.

“We just started focusing more,” Durant said.

“In the first half, we were just out there,” Draymond Green conceded. “We played with more force in the second half.”

Put another way, the Warriors spent 24 minutes toying around, skipping and shrugging and whistling, before operating on the team they have faced in the last three NBA Finals.

The team widely considered No. 2 in the NBA despite its current 26-17 record.

When the Warriors pulled away for good early in the fourth quarter, Durant and Curry were sitting on the bench, peeking out from beneath hoods. They’d crushed it in the third quarter, combining for 27 points to equal Cleveland’s total for the quarter. Now they were watching Green and Thompson and the Vet Platoon -- Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West -- bury the Cavs under a ton of defense.

“Seemed like the rim got smaller and smaller,” James said.

“That group that was out there, they have hung their hats on being a defensive unit and getting stops and that’s what they did the first four minutes,” Curry said. “I don’t think they gave Cleveland any daylight.”

Leading by two entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors needed about six minutes to push it to 10. They were up eight, 105-97, when Curry and Durant returned with 5:29 remaining to deliver the goodnight kiss.

The Warriors well into that stage that most great teams experience. They know that if they do what they’re capable of doing, the competition is irrelevant.

They also are aware that if they are too careless or complacent, they can lose to any team. Five of their nine losses are to teams simply hoping to make the playoffs.

The Cavs aren’t hoping. They’ll be there. The question is will they be there in June.

“I don’t think this game was any indication of what’s going to happen with this team down the line,” Durant said of the Cavs. “They’re going to be much better than what they are right now. And we all know that.”

Durant is right. The Cavs will be better in April than they are in January. Isaiah Thomas, who missed the first 11 weeks before taking the court on Jan. 2, will have shaken off the rust long before the playoffs. James will be in championship-or-bust mode. Whether there is a trade or not, Cleveland’s rotations will be set.

But the Warriors know they’re the better team, able to keep up with the Cavs even while snoozing. When the defending champs decide to work at it, they know Cleveland is helpless, even if it’s not something said in public.