Warriors

School days: LeBron thrilled to be teammates again with Wade

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AP

School days: LeBron thrilled to be teammates again with Wade

The wake-up calls for Dwyane Wade were coming at 5:45 a.m. for much of the summer. An hour or so later, he and LeBron James would be in the gym together working on their games.

And the chemistry was as good as ever.

“He drives me to want to be better,” Wade said.

They’ll be grinding together on a daily basis now.

Wade signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday to reunite with James, with whom he went to four NBA Finals and won two championships in Miami. Wade’s deal was finalized quickly after he cleared waivers, which he had to do after getting a buyout from the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.

“I’m all about the challenge,” Wade told The Associated Press. “If I didn’t want the challenge, I would have stayed in Chicago. But I wanted the challenge of being back on that big stage and playing in those moments and seeing what I’ve got. So I’m not going to talk about what I’ve got. I want to go out there and show, when the lights are the brightest and the games are the biggest, that’s when I’m alive. And I need that.”

He took a hard look at going back to Miami, listened to sales pitches from Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City, even considered San Antonio and got a call from Golden State.

But in the end, he wanted to play again with James — someone Wade calls his brother.

“I definitely think I can help him in different ways,” Wade told the AP via phone as he sat in his new locker room. “He is, in today’s game, the greatest basketball player that we have. So he doesn’t need me to help him be great. But there’s other areas that I’ve been able to be there, to help him think about things a certain way. He knows I’m going to put the work in with him. He knows I’m going to be right there.”

Earlier Wednesday, James said he feels like a little kid having Wade with him again.

“Come on, man, this is like one of my best friends,” James said after the first of Cleveland’s two practices on the day — the second one set to be Wade’s first with the Cavs. “It’s kind of like when you start school and you walk into the classroom and you’re not quite sure who your classmates are and when you walk in there and one of your best friends is in there, you’re like: ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be a good class.’”

A good team, too.

Wade and James spent four seasons together with the Heat, winning two championships and making the Finals four times as a duo as devastating as any in league history. They’ll now join forces on a Cleveland team that saw Kyrie Irving traded to Boston and the roster get remodeled by adding Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, former league MVP Derrick Rose and free agents Jeff Green and Jose Calderon.

Wade has talked to coach Tyronn Lue about his role and seems assured that he’ll be in the mix for a starting job.

“You want to earn your spot, but I definitely wanted to make sure it wasn’t something that was off the table,” Wade said. “I don’t want ever to be given anything in this league. I want to feel like I earned it. That’s kind of how you want it coming to a new team. ... This is a deep team. That really excited me about the potential of this team and what you need to compete with a Golden State. You need a deep team to compete with them.”

Wade has said many times that a fourth ring isn’t a make-or-break goal for him. His legacy is secure. He’s a certain Hall of Famer. He’s one of the best to ever play the game.

That doesn’t mean another title is irrelevant, though. And he gave back about $8 million in the buyout with the Bulls to get this chance, after taking smaller-than-he-could-have-gotten deals in Miami multiple times to help the Heat and their championship quests.

“I want to compete for it,” Wade said. “I’ve always said if I don’t win another one, it’s not going change the course of my career and what I’ve been able to accomplish. But as everyone knows, as has been very highly documented, some of it documented the wrong way, I’ve probably given back the most money of any player in NBA history. And it’s always been to be in position to compete for a championship.”

The Cavaliers have been to the last three NBA Finals; add the Miami years in there, and James has been to the title round in seven consecutive seasons.

Wade hasn’t played a June game since 2014.

He’s hoping that changes in 2018.

“When you play this sport, getting to those moments, getting to the Eastern Conference finals, the Finals, that’s when you feel alive,” Wade said. “And I haven’t felt that in a couple years. And I wanted to make sure I put myself in that position. If I don’t win one, my career path is not going to change, but damn it sure will feel great.”

Kerr offers revised outlook on Curry, deems him day-to-day

Kerr offers revised outlook on Curry, deems him day-to-day

OAKLAND -- Two days after saying Stephen Curry is “not going to play anytime soon,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr offered a revised outlook.

“He’s day-to-day,” Kerr said Tuesday, prior to Game 5 of the first-round series against San Antonio. “We’re just taking it day-by-day. We’ll see.”

After sustaining a sprain of his right MCL on March 23, Curry initially was given a four--to-six prognosis. He was examined again last Friday, at the four-week mark, after which he was cleared for modified practice sessions.

Those have, by all accounts, gone very well. Curry has shed the bulky knee-support brace for a slimmer version and is showing greater flexibility.

“Steph has been coming into the gym every day working and he’s doing his thing and we are doing ours,” Kerr said. “We’re just hoping for the best, no making any predictions.”

Kerr said last weekend that Curry was still not close to returning. Curry is scheduled to be reevaluated Friday. If all goes well, he’ll be cleared for contact practices, with game action to follow, assuming the Warriors advance to the second round.

Warriors will make concerted effort to get off to strong start in Game 5

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AP

Warriors will make concerted effort to get off to strong start in Game 5

OAKLAND -- After losing a first-round game for only the second time in four postseasons, the Warriors expect to recover and close out the Spurs when they meet Tuesday night in Game 5 at Oracle Arena.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins with Warriors Outsiders at 4:30pm, with tipoff at Oracle Arena scheduled for 7:40.

Reverting to their worst regular-season habits in Game 4, committing seven turnovers in the first five minutes in a tip-to-horn road loss, the Warriors are sure to be more focused at home. They are 7-1 in Game 5s under coach Steve Kerr.

For the third consecutive game, San Antonio will be without head coach Gregg Popovich, who remains away after the death of his wife last Wednesday.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 10.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

JaVale McGee & Co. vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Though Aldridge had 22 and 10 in Game 4, the Warriors made him go out of his comfort zone. He was 3-of-3 beyond the arc, and the Warriors will give him those shots. As long as he isn’t pouring in points, the Spurs will have to get offense from other sources and that’s not a given.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (L MCL sprain) and G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) are listed as out.

Spurs: F Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is listed as out.

SERIES TO DATE

Game 1: Warriors 113, Spurs 92 Game 2: Warriors 116, Spurs 101 Game 3: Warriors 110, Spurs 97 Game 4: Spurs 103, Warriors 90

GAME OFFICIALS

Mike Callahan (crew chief), Tony Brown, Jason Phillips, (Bennie Adams) alternate

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won three of four in the regular season after sweeping the Spurs in the 2017 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are 14-7 (including postseason) against San Antonio in the Steve Kerr era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

EARLY ENGAGEMENT: The crowd will sense victory from the start and the Warriors, with no desire to make a return trip to San Antonio, will be in a mood to handle business at home. Considering their dreadful start in Game 4, they’ll make a concerted effort to be sharp and generate some early momentum.

KLAY’S COMEBACK: After punishing the Spurs with spectacular shooting in the first three games, Klay Thompson had neither luck not accuracy in Game 4, missing 12 of his 16 shots. His scoring often is the pivotal offensive factor for a Warriors team without Stephen Curry. When he’s on, the Warriors almost always win.

SPURS RESOLVE: Shooting 53. 6 percent from deep, playing aggressive defense and knowing it might be Manu Ginobili’s last game in San Antonio, the Spurs may have found their peak in Game 4. That will be tough to repeat knowing they need to win four in a row to take the series.