NBA Gameday: Role players take centerstage in Warriors-Spurs clash

NBA Gameday: Role players take centerstage in Warriors-Spurs clash

In a game with implications to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the Warriors and Spurs will turn to skeleton crews for a national TV game Saturday in San Antonio.

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson will watch from the bench when the Warriors (52-13) take the court at AT&T Center. With the team at the end of a stretch during which it played five games in seven days, on both coasts, coach Steve Kerr opted to rest all four players.

The Spurs (50-14) roster is light for completely different reasons. Starting forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, as well as starting point guard Tony Parker, will be sidelined due to injuries and health reasons.

Though the Warriors currently hold the overall No. 1 seed, which grants homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, a San Antonio victory would pull the Spurs within a half-game.

Spurs by 11

Shaun Livingston vs. Patty Mills: In a game with such emaciated rosters, it’ll be up to the point guards to set the tone. With Mills at a seven-inch height disadvantage, the Spurs likely will cross match on defense and turn to Danny Green. Expect Ian Clark to be the primary defender on Mills. Just as Mills will try to outwork the defense, this is a chance for Livingston to force mismatches and exploit them.

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (rest), F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise), F Draymond Green (rest), F Andre Iguodala (rest) and G Klay Thompson (rest) are listed as out.

Spurs: F LaMarcus Aldridge (heart arrhythmia), F Kawhi Leonard (concussion protocol), G Dejounte Murray (L groin tightness) and G Tony Parker (back stiffness) are listed as out.

Warriors C Damian Jones was recalled Saturday morning from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 6-4. Spurs: 9-1.

The Warriors lost the first meeting this season, 129-100, on Oct. 25 at Oracle Arena, but have won four of the last seven. The Warriors last April 10 won in San Antonio for the first time since Feb. 14, 1997, spanning 33 consecutive losses.

THE COACHES: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the master, and the man who invented the concept of resting players. Kerr, a disciple of Popovich, is relatively new at this but has learned quickly. Suddenly, it’s an altogether different kind of chess match, one without the usual potency. How close to the vest will they play it?

THE SUBS: With so many All-Stars out, substitute starters and reserves will be pivotal. Manu Ginobili, 39, is still going for the Spurs. Ex-Warrior David Lee is having a solid season, and Jonathon Simmons hurt the Warriors on opening night. The Warriors will need unexpected production from veterans (Matt Barnes or David West) as well as the youngsters (Pat McCaw, James Michael McAdoo, Kevon Looney).

THE BIG MEN: Suddenly, veteran big man Pau Gasol is the most prolific scorer for San Antonio. He is capable from both the high and low post. Expect the Warriors to lean on Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and West. Gasol will get minutes at center, in which case McGee will have chances to outrun him at both ends.


Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'


Former agent Christian Dawkins to blame? Jordan Bell knows 'exactly what happened'

So here's a story for you:

At 9:25pm on April 16, 2017, The Vertical's Shams Charania sent out the following tweet:

This angered Jordan Bell, who soon thereafter tweeted twice:

So what actually went down? It turns out that former agent Christian Dawkins -- who is a key figure in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball -- may have been responsible.

Bell explained everything to Logan Murdock on the Planet Dubs Podcast.

"I was mad ... I know exactly what happened. One of the agents I met with -- the one who got in trouble. What's his name? Dawkins or whatever. Something like that. When I met with him, he was throwing me shade -- he acted like he didn't know who I was. 

"We had dinner and he's on his phone like not really paying me attention. I'm like, 'Why am I meeting with you?  You're wasting my time.' ... I kid you not, he didn't read over his (research). It had all of the top power forwards, big guys in the draft. And he was like, 'Let's just look at this.'

"And he's looking at it, and he was like, 'Oh! You're Top 3 in everything!' And he started getting excited and I was like, 'I'm cool. I'm done with this meeting.'"

Bell then explained how one of his coaches at Oregon tried to teach Bell a lesson.

The coach wanted Bell to "be a man" and contact all of the agents that he was for sure not going to sign with to let them know.

Bell didn't want to do that because he wanted to announce he was declaring for the draft on his own terms, without any information potentially leaking to the media.

But the Warriors rookie took the coach's advice and texted Dawkins to say he was going in a different direction.

"And I kid you not, like an hour later, I get an (alert) -- I'm upstairs at my coach's house -- 'I hear Jordan Bell declares for (the draft)' and I just started screaming...

"... I feel like I have to go (to the NBA) now ... when that happened, I was like, 'I really want to go back now just to prove him wrong, just to make him lose all credibility."

Bell quickly came to his senses, and at 10am on April 18, 2017, he retweeted the following message:

Interestingly -- the last line of The Vertical's story that broke the news regarding Bell reads:

Bell is projected to be the No. 38 overall pick in The Vertical’s latest mock draft by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

The Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to Bell at... No. 38 overall.

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

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.