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.

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.