Warriors

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

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USATSI

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 3

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.

GAME OFFICIALS

Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.

Warriors-Spurs series feels small and insignificant with Erin Popovich's passing

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USATSI

Warriors-Spurs series feels small and insignificant with Erin Popovich's passing

SAN ANTONIO -- The news hit Steve Kerr like a sledgehammer to the heart.

Imagine, then, how it must have hit Kerr’s mentor, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

The Warriors were wrapping up light practice at AT&T Center Wednesday evening when it was announced by the Spurs that Erin Popovich, Gregg’s wife of more than 40 years, had passed away after a long illness.

Suddenly, Warriors-Spurs and their first-round playoff series, which resumes Thursday, felt small and insignificant.

Kerr, who has been close to the Popovich family for 20 years and whose eldest son, Nick, works for the Spurs, could not bring himself to talk. Seeing the anguish on his face, I felt guilty for asking. I felt relieved that he declined.

I also felt like I’ve never understood Popovich better.

Nothing shines a light on a survivor like the loss of a loved one and in this regard Popovich is brilliant. His wife had been suffering month after month after month, for years, according to those familiar with the circumstances, yet he soldiered on during what may be, personally and professionally, his most difficult year.

His wife was ailing, as if that’s not enough.

His team has been without its best player, Kawhi Leonard, which almost deprived the Spurs of their annual ticket to the NBA playoffs.

Almost. The Spurs found their way by following the tenets Popovich has preached for 22 years in San Antonio. Work hard, play smart, do your best job and live with the results.

Sounds simple, but it worked.

See, when so many in the NBA orbit are living through basketball, Popovich has been living through reality. Basketball is a priority, but not his obsession. He’s a military man, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, whose experiences have afforded him a personal lens than spans at least 360 degrees.

It’s why Popovich never dwells too long on a game, certainly not now, at age 69, a grandfather whose thoughts could not have been too far from his wife of more than 40 years.

It’s why he consistently speaks up for those whose pleas go unheard.

It’s why he says, convincingly, that he doesn’t care if his opinions about our current president rub some folks the wrong way -- even if those folks are Spurs fans.

Popovich is living in the moment because that’s all he has, all any of us has.

The news of the day brought me back to the words Popovich said in closing his pregame news conference prior to Game 1 of this series Saturday in Oakland:

“Enjoy the day. It’s beautiful out there.”

Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs coach Gregg, passes away

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AP

Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs coach Gregg, passes away

The Spurs family suffered an unimaginable tragedy on Wednesday when Gregg Popovich's wife, Erin, passed away.

The news was made public by the team shortly after 5pm PT.

"We mourn the loss of Erin. She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us," Spurs general manager RC Buford said in a statement.

Gregg and Erin Popovich were married for four decades.

The heartbreaking news was announced as the Warriors players and coaches were meeting with the media in San Antonio.

Steve Kerr, who is close with the Popovichs, was too stunned to comment on Erin's passing.

Reporters in the arena broke the news to Kevin Durant, who was understandably stunned by the news.

"What? Seriously? Man, prayers and condolences to his family. Damn. I don't even know what to say," Durant said.

Steph Curry and Shaun Livingston took to Twitter Wednesday evening to pay their respects to Gregg Popovich.