Warriors

While DubNation's anxiety level rises, Warriors exude calm in wake of injuries

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USATSI

While DubNation's anxiety level rises, Warriors exude calm in wake of injuries

OAKLAND -- Going up and down the roster, from one side of the locker room to the other, there is no sense of alarm among the Warriors as they enter the final turn of the season without their All-Star backcourt.

No Stephen Curry, no Klay Thompson and no panic.

Not even a hint, even as multiple losses to vastly inferior teams have contributed to the Warriors sitting in an unfamiliar place, No. 2 in the Western Conference.

“People are seeing that we’ve been a little vulnerable, and it scares them,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Thursday.

“But it doesn’t scare us.”

This comes one night after Kevin Durant calmly directed the Warriors to a 117-106 win over a resurgent Lakers team that had won 20 of its last 29 games. With Draymond Green joining Curry and Thompson on the sideline, Durant scored 26 points and, moreover, seemed at ease single-handedly filling the leadership void.

“The way I approach the game is with confidence,” he said after the game. “I’m not trying to tell everybody what to do every single play. That’s just not how I get down and I don’t think people respond well to that. I was trying to tell guys what I see at the moment, and if it needed correction I’m going to correct it at the moment. And I’ll let it simmer for a couple plays until it boils over if it’s not bad.”

Though Green missed only one game and will return Friday, the Warriors are bracing for the possibility that Curry and Thompson won’t be back until the end of the month.

Already three games behind the Houston Rockets in the race for the overall No. 1 seed, the Warriors are facing late-season adversity for the first time under Kerr, who took over prior to the 2014-15 season.

Between the injuries to the All-Star guards and the team’s place in the standings, anxiety levels are rising among many citizens of Dub Nation.

“We know our fans panic a little bit,” Kerr said. “But nobody’s out for the year. Guys are out for a couple weeks. It’ll be good for them and be good for us, for the rest of the guys.

“We have seemed invulnerable the last few years. You’re never invulnerable. People are seeing our vulnerability this year, but we’ve always known that we were vulnerable. We all are. It’s just been exposed more this year through injury, through whatever. It’s all part of it.”

Kerr noted that he receives updates from the team’s communications boss, Raymond Ridder, that provide the pulse of the fan base. That’s enough for the coach to get a feel for the chatter about the team. And, yes, it is more pensive now than it was in the latter stages of seasons past.

“I’m not on the message boards going, ‘Come on, Joe from Piedmont. We’re actually fine. We’re going to be OK, Joe,’ ” Kerr said.

That comment was followed by laughter, which is not in short supply around the Warriors. The culture instilled by Kerr, along with abundant assistance of Curry, has resulted in a belief that won’t shake their confidence and won’t strip them of humor.

The Warriors believe now, just as they believed on opening night when they were presented with championship rings earned last season.

It’s just a different route, one with a few more pitfalls and potholes, especially over the final weeks.

“Everybody is getting an opportunity to play,” center Zaza Pachulia said. “They’re in shape. They feel the game. During the playoffs, it’s all we’re going to see how the series is going to go, how the matchup is going to go. The good thing is, everybody is going to be ready.”

Kerr is thankful the injuries are coming now, rather than at any time in April.

“The timing of all this, hopefully, is going to work out,” he said. “We’re going to have two or three weeks to finish the year with everybody back and ready to go.

“But you can’t ever count on that. You don’t know what’s going to happen. But the nature of our injury situation right now is that it looks like we’re going to have everyone healthy down the stretch. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Klay makes it crystal clear -- the Warriors do not want to fly back to San Antonio

Klay makes it crystal clear -- the Warriors do not want to fly back to San Antonio

The Warriors missed out on the opportunity to sweep the Spurs.

They were sloppy with the ball in Game 4 and not focused from the opening tip.

So what needs to change in Game 5?

[PODCAST: Player-by-player breakdown of Game 4 loss to Spurs]

"Do everything we did, but opposite," Klay Thompson told reporters on Monday. "So win the game and move the ball better."

See -- it's that simple!

After scoring 27, 31 and 19 points in Games 1 through 3 respectively, Klay struggled on Sunday to the tune of 12 points on 4-for-16 from the field.

He's confident that he will bounce back.

"I don't know if I'm gonna get 60, but if I get half that I'll be happy," Klay said.

If the Warriors lose on Tuesday night, Game 6 would be in Texas on Thursday.

Klay doesn't even want to think about that scenario.

"Beautiful opportunity for us to close it out at home and that's the goal because we do not want to make that flight back to San Antonio," Klay declared. "It's no fun...

"We're a championship team and we'll repond like one."

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

Why Warriors players not in forgiving mood towards media member who stole jacket

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AP

Why Warriors players not in forgiving mood towards media member who stole jacket

OAKLAND -- As much as they enjoy basketball and winning games and entertaining fans, most of the players on the Warriors are willing to remind us they also happen to be acutely aware of life beyond the court.

Real life.

That’s why their unhappiness with KGO-TV sports anchor Mike Shumann doesn’t begin to match their annoyance with attempts to downplay or rationalize his surreptitious behavior that, incidentally, was caught on video.

Shumann, the former 49ers receiver who has been with KGO since 1994, was in San Antonio last week to provide coverage of the Warriors-Spurs playoff series. He was captured on video after practice last Thursday bending over, picking up a jacket, folding it and walking out of AT&T Center. The jacket, it was later, confirmed, belonged to Warriors security manager Ralph Walker, who had not given Shumann permission to take it.

Approached about the incident, Shumann returned the jacket, apologized and also tried to explain his actions, essentially saying he wasn’t thinking clearly.

Insofar as Shumann is a Disney Company employee -- Disney owns ABC and ESPN -- the matter put the Warriors organization in a compromised position. Disney’s contract with the NBA gives ABC affiliates exclusive access on specific telecasts, something the Warriors take seriously. In their attempt to control the damage and preserve status quo with Shumann, they wanted to consider the matter a benign misunderstanding.

As in, he’s a good guy that made a mistake.

The players were not in such a forgiving mood. They urged that action be taken, partly out of loyalty to Walker but largely because of their belief the incident would not have been taken so lightly likely if the jacket had been removed by a person of color.

They smelled a double standard. And while some surely would argue against that, the players have centuries of American history to support their theory. Recent events have unfolded to have that theory reaffirmed.

The Warriors are aware of various social/ethnic inequalities that go unpunished. It’s why some speak out.

They are aware that two black men were handcuffed and taken out of a Philadelphia Starbucks because they’d asked to use the bathroom before buying anything. This was the extent of their “wrongdoing” while awaiting a business meeting.

They are aware that white gunman Dylann Roof unloaded his clip on black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015, killing nine, and was taken by police to a fast-food restaurant for a snack on the way to jail.

They are aware that a black woman in Alabama, after demanding the phone number of a Waffle House district manager, was tossed to the ground by two white police officers who claimed she dropped an f-bomb.

This occurred hours apart from a shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House, where a white man used an assault rifle to kill four people of color before he was disarmed and forced to flee. It was later reported that the man had gone on a racist rant and threatened black customers in a grocery store without police intervention.

And of course they know the Parkland, Fla. school shooter, a white man who killed 17 with an assault rifle, was captured alive while unarmed Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, killed no one yet was felled by a fusillade of bullets while in his grandmother’s backyard.

It’s hard to know all of this and then fall in line with the contention that Shumann’s actions should be dismissed because, hey, he apologized.

While Shumann’s transgression can’t be considered a serious crime, it most assuredly is a serious breach of protocol.

I’ve been professionally acquainted Mike for years and had never formed an opinion of his character. I heard what had happened, followed up with a few people and became aware of how the team felt. I saw the video and considered it bizarre behavior on his part.

Maybe that’s all it is. Or maybe there is some medical or psychological explanation.

Some Warriors were merely bothered by the entire episode, others were outraged -- mostly about the attempt to bury it. With social consciousness on the rise in this country, and white privilege being acknowledged as real, the timing of Shumann’s behavior left him exposed to significant backlash.

Double standards beget unrest. Look around and it’s hard to miss. Though the Warriors may not be militant or demonstrative, they are awake enough to see the world as it is and pursue a greater fairness. That’s what they’re seeking.