Mailtime Assuming the Warriors re-sign Brandon Rush and adda backup power forward, is this a playoff team? Robert, Petaluma,Calif.Steinmetz: On paper its the closest theWarriors have been to being a playoff team since 2007-08, when they won 48games.Now, Im not saying this is a 48-win team. Im saying thisis the best roster the Warriors have had since that time. However, here comethe disclaimers.First, the Western Conference is still a bear. OklahomaCity, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies are allmore talented than the Warriors.As long as Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki, I think theyre going tomake the playoffs, particularly because I think they did enough to maintainthis offseason. So, that leaves two openings and teams such as the Warriors,Denver, Houston, Portland, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota.Can the Warriors compete with that group? Yes, assumingtheyre healthy. And, really, thats what so much of this comes down to. CanStephen Curry and Andrew Bogut play full seasons or relatively close to fullseasons? That will, in many ways, dictate the Warriors season.If theyre healthy, I think the Warriors can compete for oneof the final two playoff spots in the West. I see the Warriors as a teamknocking on the door of .500 again, if healthy and if theyre knocking onthat door it means theyll be in the vicinity.I think if everything goes right for them, maybe this teamcan climb above .500. If theyre banged up or have some bad luck, then I thinktheyre under. But as of right now, yes, I think the goal for the team and thefans should be the playoffs.Whats going on with Brandon Rush? Mark, PaloAlto.Steinmetz: You want to talk about the normalcourse of things this is the normal course of things a lot of time with arestricted free agent. Particularly with the way the Warriors have handled itfrom back in the regular season and shortly thereafter.Its not accurate to say nothing is going on with Brandon Rush,because something could break at any time with another team signing him to anoffer sheet. At the same time, its the kind of situation that could lingerbecause some teams are likely very leery of signing Rush to an offersheet.See, the Warriors have made it clear that Rush is a priorityfor them and that they want to re-sign him. Rush made 3 million last season,so youve got to figure the Warriors are willing to go somewhere in thevicinity of 5 million per season to keep him.So, the question is this: Why would another team sign Rushto an offer sheet, knowing the Warriors are going to match? Not only that, theWarriors could take up to three days to match, meaning that the team thatsigned Rush to the offer sheet might have to remain idle during thattime.Its one thing to come up with a whopper of an offer likeMinnesota did with Nicolas Batum or Houston did with Jeremy Lin but Rush isdifferent. Hes not so coveted that a team is going to offer him that kind ofmoney.So, again, I could see this lingering for a while, and if itdoes, it does. But you never know maybe a team like Minnesota, which struckout on Batum, might be trying to put something together for Rush.But the reality is that the Warriors are in control of theRush situation, and they know it.Any word on whether the Warriors are interested inAndray Blatche? Ryan, Santa Clara.Steinmetz: Oh, lordy, I hope not. Few players inthe NBA have underachieved like Andray Blatche. He came into the league withcomparisons to Kevin Garnett, but hasnt turned out to be a shell of the playerGarnett wasis.Blatche seems to be everything the Warriors are trying tosteer away from these days. Owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers havebeen stressing the importance of bringing in character people, and thats notthe reputation Blatche has.From a practical standpoint, what concerns me most aboutBlatche is that he seems to have lost all the athleticism he once had. Thatmeans hes a player without know-how and a player without athleticism.Ill pass on him, and Im sure the Warriors will,too.
OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.
Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.
Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.
There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.
They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.
Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?
The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.
“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.
Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.
“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.
“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”
Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.
The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.
“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.
“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”
The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.
The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.
“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”
Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.
A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.
Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.
They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.
The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.
“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”
When it rains, it pours for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After starting the season 24-9, they have cratered. Including two losses to the Warriors and one to the Kings, the Cavs are 3-8 over their last 11 games.
During the stretch, they suffered through a four-game losing streak and nearly blew a 23-point lead against the Magic on Thursday.
But nothing was worse than what happened in front of a national TV audience on Saturday. The visiting Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into Quicken Loans Arena and hung 148 points on the defending Eastern Conference champs and won by 24 points.
Saturday's performance was so bad, former Cavs head coach David Blatt took a shot at them before coaching the Team Europe in the Turkish Basketball Super League All-Star Game in Instabul.
Asked by a sideline reporter for his thoughts on the game he was about to coach, Blatt offered this:
"Well, I don't think we're going to have any problem scoring. I'm just wondering if we're going to defend anybody. That's what I'm worried about," Blatt said.
The reporter followed up by asking for his expectation of the final score. That's when Blatt threw a haymaker at the team that fired him during the 2015-16 season despite a 30-11 record.
"Well, I hope we don't give up as many points as the Cavaliers did last night," Blatt said.
Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.