Maybe Westbrook vs Durant really about you rather than them

Maybe Westbrook vs Durant really about you rather than them

The tyranny of the pre-ordained narrative returns to Oakland Thursday night when the Oklahoma City Westbrooks come to the Nickel-Dime to face up to the Golden State Durants, and the winner will be determined by the insincerity of the visible pregame greeting.

This is life with the new granular Warriors, where all things run through Kevin Durant, and all things Kevin Durant run through Russell Westbrook, and while we’re at it, all things Russell Westbrook run through Kevin Durant.

It almost makes you forget that the season starts in April.

But that’s the one problem with the current fetishizing of the Warriors – the dramatic moments (even the largely meaningless ones like whether Durant and Westbrook are still friends, or whether they ever were) before April are so few that the ones that do crop up take on absurd lengths.

[RELATED: Durant, Westbrook 'going through a tough time right now']

I mean, let’s be honest. It’s a handshake and a hug, or it’s not a handshake and a hug. To think it has a greater significance is almost to imply that Durant needs this pregame to be a happy and noncontroversial one, as though this were the final table at the World Series of Poker rather than Game 5 of the season, and that individual whims matter more than the interlocking parts of a team.

And maybe that’s the pre-flop story, to exhaust the poker analogy – whether one man’s molten fury can find satisfaction in raging against the machine that just turbocharged itself with his former teammate.

This being the NBA, you bet the machine. The machine rarely loses, last June notwithstanding. Golden State is the machine, the system team that decided to break down part of its system to take on an exemplary individual and see if he can make the system better.

So if you have a rooting interest between the genius soloist and the veteran jazz ensemble, this game has everything you want.

But the chosen plot line of Westbrook-Durant ignores the rematch between Draymond Green’s left foot and Stephen Adams’ legacy satchel, which was one of the massive turning points in the Warriors’ postseason because of what it foretold one series later. Of course, nobody wants to do a longform story on Adams’ delicates, and Green’s foot is barely more interesting.

And there is also the alternate-universe line in which Oklahoma City doesn’t blow its 3-1 lead (the 3-1 lead that hasn’t become an internet meme), and knock the Warriors back on their heels to the point where Durant decides to stay with the Thunder either to defend a championship or to restock for a another run at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Instead, Thursday’s game is being forced through the strainer of Westbrook’s working relationship with Durant, what form it took when they were teammates, what form it takes now, and the level of satisfaction or resentment each feels at its termination. And it will be evaluated via the essentially meaningless gesture of a public pregame acknowledgement, the ultimate definition of empty calories.

In short, we are dealing here with rooting interests and style preferences rather than anything enduring or meaningful – and maybe that’s how it should be, given that this sport and not politics.

Well, okay, maybe politics is a bad example.

And maybe Thursday’s pregame and game is really just a matter of preference – whether you prefer this story to the matter of who wins or loses speaks to how you prefer to view your athletes and enjoy your athletics.

Maybe Russell Westbrook-v.-Kevin Durant is really about you rather than them, in which case this game is DIY sports of the rawest form, where you make your own game and decide how to score it. The only problem being, of course, that if you’re really more interested in how Westbrook and Durant handle their reunion than in the game that follows, you’ve got a whole evening ahead of you with nothing to do. That's the problem with pre-ordained narratives -- you often lose sight of the potential for surprise, like, say, Adams inadvertently kicking Green in the how's-your-father.

And what, ultimately, is the fun in that?

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.