Warriors

Nets game holds key to Warriors road trip

curry_stephen_warriors.jpg

Nets game holds key to Warriors road trip

Programming note: Nets-Warriors coverage begins on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live at 4 p.m. Stick around after the final buzzer for Warriors Postgame Live.

There are certain games during the course of an 82-game schedule that seem to stick out more than others. Friday night’s game between the Nets and Warriors in Brooklyn would seem to be one of those games.

The Warriors (11-7), coming off a win at Detroit on Wednesday, are playing Game 2 of a seven-game road trip, and the Nets are the second-toughest opponent (besides Miami) that they’ll face.

When charting out a road trip such as this, it’s not a game you put down in the “win” column early, that’s for sure. But that’s why it could be a real swing game for the Warriors. If the Warriors can come out of Brooklyn with a win, it sets up the possibility that this road trip could be something special.

Here are some things to watch for during Friday’s game between the Warriors and Brooklyn Nets:

The point guard matchup: Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is playing very well these days, having put together four consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 assists.

Question is: Can he have that type of impactful game against a very good opponent on the road? He may have to if the Warriors have a shot at winning the game.

As for Williams, he struggled against the Warriors in a Nov. 21 loss at Oracle Arena, scoring just nine points – on 4-for-12 from the field – and handing out eight assists.

Look for small-ball: If there’s one thing Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been questioned about this season, it’s his propensity to forgo playing with a center and instead pairing David Lee and Carl Landry up front.

Well, there should be plenty of Lee and Landry on Friday because Brooklyn center Brook Lopez will not play because of sprained right foot.

Andray Blatche could get the start in Lopez’ place and Reggie Evans – assuming he’ll play – will likely get plenty of minutes, too.

Locate Wallace: Gerald Wallace didn’t play when the team’s played on Nov. 21, and he’s been a player who has a nice history against Golden State.

Wallace is a very good defender, and his athleticism has afforded him the ability to get plenty of easy buckets over the years. If Wallace is defending Klay Thompson, it’s important Thompson makes sure to take as many quality shots as possible.

Wallace is also a very good rebounder from the small forward spot and Golden State will have to be aware of that.

 

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

durant-kerr-ap.jpg
AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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.”

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

lebron-cavs-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

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.

Ouch.

Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.