Warriors

With Green listed as doubtful, expect Warriors to rely on rookie Jordan Bell

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AP

With Green listed as doubtful, expect Warriors to rely on rookie Jordan Bell

After getting a rude “Welcome to the NBA” facial from Rockets guard Eric Gordon in his debut Tuesday night, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell stands to get a more legitimate baptism Friday night in New Orleans.

That’s where Pelicans All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will be waiting, eager to abuse the new guy.

With starting power forward Draymond Green listed as doubtful with a strained left knee -- MRI test results were negative -- Bell can expect significant minutes when the Warriors and Pelicans meet at Smoothie King Center.

Aware Green’s availability is in question, Bell sees what’s ahead in Davis and Cousins, as they both possess skills that rank among the top five big men.

“I’m definitely excited about that,” Bell said Wednesday. “(They are) some of the best bigs in the league, so I’m definitely excited to get tested against that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr generally avoids tinkering with his set rotations, in which case David West and JaVale McGee would continue to come off the bench at center. Of the other “bigs” on the roster, Bell is most likely to start if Green is unable.

Bell played 12 minutes in the opener, and they were in slots that typically go to McGee, who never left the bench against Houston. Citing the matchups created by the Rockets’ smallish lineups, Kerr opted for the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Bell over the 7-foot, 270-pound McGee.

That will change Friday, regardless of Green’s status, as both Bell and McGee will be needed against Davis and Cousins, both of whom possess wing spans over 7 feet. Only Bell is suited to play power forward or center, and the staff is coaching him at both positions.

“At the 4, I have to be more of a facilitator, like (Green) is,” Bell said. “Some plays (Kerr) has me doing the same things Draymond does. Sometimes he has me bring the ball up in practice. Calling plays, putting me in positions on the elbows to make the right pass, make the right read.

“When I’m at the 5, I have to be more of an aggressor, a more physical guy on the court, focusing on rebounding and finishing around the rim.”

It’s exceedingly rare for a second-round draft pick to start a game in his first week as an NBA player. The Warriors believe Bell can handle it. So in the case of Green being held out, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the rookie’s name is called.

 

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.

Warriors will show early if focus lies on sweeping Spurs or peeking at Pelicans

Warriors will show early if focus lies on sweeping Spurs or peeking at Pelicans

SAN ANTONIO -- With the hottest team in the NBA lurking in the next round, it won’t take long Sunday to see if the Warriors are truly focused on Game 4 of their first-round series against San Antonio or if their minds have already moved on.

It is tempting to peek ahead at the Pelicans, who have not lost since April Fools’ Day and would the opponent in the next round.

Kevin Durant is quick to dismiss the possibility of a letdown, whether it’s because the Warriors have four chances to win one game or because streaking New Orleans has been so startlingly impressive.

“When you have a veteran group that has been through the long hauls of the playoffs, they kind of know what to expect, especially in closeout games,” Durant said after practice Saturday. “Everybody here has been through situations, being up 3-0, trying to close teams out. That experience is going to help us to focus in even more than we have already in this series.”

The Spurs, from the start, weren’t given much of a chance to win this series and they’ve since been affected by the death of Erin Popovich, wife of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, on Wednesday, one day ahead of Game 3.

At this stage, the Spurs might be excused if they’re somewhat disengaged and therefore not properly locked in on the task at hand.

“It’s hard to think about that, for me personally, right now because there’s other stuff bigger than basketball,” Spurs veteran Tony Parker said after losing Game 3.

Still, the Warriors have to finish the job before they can advance and face New Orleans, which won its last five regular-season games before finishing a four-game first-round sweep of the Trail Blazers on Saturday.

“Teams have pride, especially the Spurs,” Durant said.

“Closeout games are always the most difficult,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Every team in the playoffs is talented and they don’t want to see their season end, especially on the road, trying to close a team out is very difficult. But you just go. You keep doing what you’ve been doing and hope it works out.

“The biggest thing is you don’t mess around in this league.”

Kerr pointed out that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit, but several have recovered from a 3-1 hole. He doesn’t want it to come to that.

“Things happen,” he said. “We’ve experienced it. You get injuries. You get suspensions. You get weird stuff that happens. So you don’t want to give anybody life. You want to try close a series out when you can.”

The Warriors, players and coaches, are NBA fans. They watched underdog New Orleans dispatch Portland behind fantastic performances by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.

The Pelicans are up next, assuming the Warriors take the court with the diligence required to send the Spurs into the offseason.

The answer may be revealed as early as the first quarter.