NBA Gameday: Klay needs to lock in on defense against DeRozan

NBA Gameday: Klay needs to lock in on defense against DeRozan

For the second time this week, the Warriors will confront a opponent coming off a road game on the previous night.

This time, it’s the Toronto Raptors on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Having prevailed Sunday, using a 27-9 closing run to put away the Phoenix Suns at Oracle Arena, the Warriors (8-2) invade Air Canada Centre Wednesday night hoping to push their win streak to five.

The Raptors (7-3), led by All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, are coming off a tough 121-117 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Cleveland.


Warriors by 6


Klay Thompson vs. DeRozan -- The shooting guards are quite familiar with each other, battling ever since their high school days in the Los Angeles area. Whereas DeRozan is off to the best start of his career, Thompson only recently began to find his rhythm. Though his defense has been inconsistent, he’ll likely be locked in for this.


Warriors: C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery recovery) is listed as out.

Raptors: F/C Jared Sullinger (L foot surgery) and G Delon Wright (R shoulder surgery) are listed as out.


The Warriors have swept the Raptors in each of the past two seasons and have won 11 of last 13 meetings overall.


1) The fear factor: The Warriors can be lethargic when facing teams not perceived to be on their level. That shouldn’t be the case against the Raptors, especially on the road. The Warriors will want to start fast, taking the crowd out of it. Can they?

2) The point guards: Stephen Curry has a room full of trophies and a championship, but he understands the challenge presented by Kyle Lowry. The squatty guard has started slowly in a contract year but is streaky enough to light it up at any time. Then there is this: the last time Curry played in Toronto, he went for 44 points.

3) Do the math: The Raptors are 26th in the NBA in 3-pointers per game, averaging 7.1, and tied for 26th in percentage at 31.0. The Warriors are third, at 11.6, and tied for third in percentage (37.5). The Warriors can’t afford to lose in this category.

Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup


Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup

The Kawhi Leonard saga continues to take twists and turns.

After last Saturday night's win over Minnesota, the Spurs had a players-only meeting and implored Kawhi Leonard to return to game action, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

It didn't seem to work.

From Woj:

Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.

Leonard has targeted games in the recent week, only to decide that he wasn't feeling confident in the injury to return, league sources said.

After San Antonio's shootaround on Wednesday, Manu Ginobili was asked about Kawhi.

"He is not coming back," Ginobili told reporters. "For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it.

"But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn't be changing, at least until he is ready for the jump ball."

Entering Thursday, the Spurs (42-30) are in 5th place in the Western Conference, three games clear of the 9th-place Nuggets. 

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Warriors keeping quiet on playoff roster battles for the right reasons


Warriors keeping quiet on playoff roster battles for the right reasons

OAKLAND -- At the mention of the most relevant non-injury question related to the Warriors, Steve Kerr treats the subject like an IRS bill he’ll eventually have to pay.

“It’s not even something that we have to address,” Kerr said the other day.

On the same subject, Kerr’s boss, general manager Bob Myers, also goes into full procrastination mode.

“We’ll sit down at the end of this regular season,” Myers told 95.7 FM The Game on Wednesday, “and decide what our playoff roster should look like.”

Ah, yes, the playoff roster. Neither Kerr nor Myers is sharing details -- on whether Quinn Cook will be included -- because they don’t have to, don’t need to and are smart enough to avoid the fallout sure to follow a premature announcement.

Understand, though, Kerr and Myers realize they have to add Cook. The young point guard has earned it on merit and out of potential need.

Since replacing the injured Stephen Curry in the starting lineup March 9, Cook is averaging 16.3 points per game on 52.7-percent shooting, including 43.3 percent from deep. Over the last three games, as Cook grew comfortable with his role, those numbers rose to 24.3, 60.4 and 54.5.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all what Quinn’s doing,“ Kerr said. “We watched him in the G-League all year, lighting it up. We watched him in practice here; he’s one of our best shooters. And all of a sudden he’s playing 40 minutes? This is what he can do.”

“We kept telling him, go get 20. Go get 25. We need that. If you look at our roster without the guys that we have, he should be our leading scorer. That’s what he does.”

Yet the Warriors wisely will delay any announcement as long as possible. They can wait as late as April 11, the last day an NBA contract can be signed and be effective for this season. They have until noon April 13 to submit the postseason roster.

Cook, as a two-way player, doesn’t possess a standard NBA contract. He can only be added to the postseason roster if the Warriors create an opening. Someone on the current 15-man roster, holding a guaranteed contract, would have to be released before additions can be made.

No one is more vulnerable in that regard than Omri Casspi, who has been in and out of the lineup more than anyone else mostly as a result of inconsistent play, poor defense and nagging injuries. The veteran fell out of the rotation in January and was relegated mostly to blowout minutes before a cluster of injuries struck the team.

The Warriors have become increasingly reluctant to play him in crucial moments, and the playoffs are all about crucial moments.

The only other candidate is center Damian Jones, who almost certainly won’t play in the postseason. He spent nearly all season with G-League Santa Cruz, but remains on the team’s radar beyond this season. The Warriors aren’t certain he’s a keeper, but they’ve exercised the option to bring him back next season.

Which brings us back to Casspi, the veteran forward who signed a one-year contract last July. The Warriors are not invested in him beyond this season.

The team is moderately invested in Cook. His two-way contract runs through next season. Off what he has shown this season, particularly in recent games, he’s a strong candidate to swap the two-way pact for a standard NBA deal next season.

“He’s been great for us,” Myers told 95.7 The Game. “The future will be interesting. We like him a lot.”

Cook, who turns 25 on Friday, is the most dynamic point guard on the roster not named Stephen Curry. In the wake of Curry’s recurrent ankle woes this season, Kerr and Myers are acutely aware of the value in having someone comfortable sharing the load at the point with veteran Shaun Livingston. You may remember last year, when the Warriors were desperate enough to sign 35-year-old Jose Calderon for a similar role.

Cook is, at this time, more valuable than either Casspi or Jones. Or Calderon.

“We’re setting the roster going into the playoffs and make the best decision that allows us to win,” Myers said. “(CEO Joe Lacob) has made it clear. One thing about Joe . . . it’s about that. That’s the only directive he gives. Go win.

“Steve’s the coach. He’s the boss. He’s the captain of that ship, as far as what the roster should look like going into the playoffs.”

Cook’s fine work and Curry’s cranky ankle have brought the Warriors to this place. They have roughly three weeks to make the call or, rather, officially announce it.