Kevon Looney

How Warriors will use center rotation; March Madness tournament picks

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NBC Sports Bay Area

How Warriors will use center rotation; March Madness tournament picks

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

This weekend, with 11 games left in the regular season, the Warriors will have a chance to pick up their 50th win. This season, they’re heading into the postseason healthy (yes, I knocked on wood when I typed this). 

Last season, they ended things by losing 10 out of 17 games before the playoffs. But Shaun Livingston explained, “Last year was trying to put the pieces together without all the pieces. This year I feel like we have more control over our destiny. We have a legitimate shot at the one-seed, playing the right way. I feel good about it.”

Game on!

@BenNugentt When Boogie gets back in a few days, do you think Andrew Bogut will play Kevon Looney’s minutes or what’s going to happen there?

@amar_srinivas1 What's andrew bogut's rotation/minutes going to look like when demarcus is back? #askKerith

@GSDOUBLEU Do you foresee Bogut getting starts over Cousins depending on the matchup of the particular game?

Lots of Boogie-Bogut-Looney questions coming in this week. Understandable considering Bogut is a new (old!) piece that shakes things up.

To recap, DeMarcus Cousins missed two games on the road with a sore right ankle/foot. There are no long-term concerns. 

Bogut started the games Cousins missed and played 19 minutes and 13 minutes, respectively. Bogut’s minutes will depend on matchups. Cousins is the starter. Looney is the next big to rotate in. Bogut is the insurance policy. His minutes will fluctuate. Some nights, Bogut won’t play at all. 

Depending on matchups in the rest of the regular season, Bogut or Looney could start for Cousins on rest nights, such as the second games of back-to-backs. In the playoffs, I think it would take a special situation for one of them to start in place of Cousins. The Warriors would need a major shake-up in that event, but don’t rule it out. 

Via IG: @jenniferespinolaa Why doesn’t Jerebko get more playing time? #askKerith

Jennifer asked this before Jerebko had 18 points in 18 minutes against Minnesota. But this question has come up frequently, as fans are noticing his playing time is down, including several DNPs. 

I actually asked Steve Kerr about Jerebko before the Minnesota game, because Bogut’s presence adds a new wrinkle.

Here’s what Kerr said:

“It’s been tough for Jonas. He played a very important role for us the first half of the season and then when DeMarcus came back, the ripple effect hurt Jonas the most because DeMarcus is going to give us 30 minutes a night at the five which means the minutes that we have at the four are more limited. Jonas has been the odd man out, but he’s a pro. He stays ready, gets his work in and he’s been through this before. We’ve talked, and he’s frustrated, but he understands. He’s just got to stay ready. In this league, you just never know.”

@ACook05 Do the Warriors have any plans to make roster additions prior to the playoffs?

Bogut is player No. 15 on the roster, the final spot. It’s possible the Warriors could sign Damion Lee for the playoffs. To find a spot for Lee, the Warriors would have to waive Alfonzo McKinnie, Quinn Cook, or Jerebko. They have until the end of the regular season to decide. 

@CthulhusProdigy How do they continue to stay hungry in year 5 of this dynasty???

That’s the big question. Making the Finals for a fifth consecutive season would deepen the dynasty. And accomplishing a three-peat would be a rare mark in NBA history, alongside only the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls. 

Every team is hungry for a championship. There’s built-in motivation, but the Warriors have the talent to do it. This roster, this moment in time, is only here for so long. There’s an urgency to seize the moment. A three-peat has been the singular goal all season. It’s their rock and nothing else matters. 

@dubsandstuff Do players watch a lot of other games or are they basketball-ed out during the season?

Steve Kerr says he watches League Pass frequently. At team dinners, games around the league are on TV, but how invested guys are in watching the games varies. 

NBA players know plenty of guys on other teams. They want to see how their friends are doing. They also keep an eye on the competition. If you’re in the league, you’re obviously a fan of the game. It can be hard to turn games off when you’ve devoted so much of your time to it.

Other guys say they want a separation between what they’re doing and what other teams are doing. They want tunnel vision on their team only. So the answer to your question depends on who you ask and what mood they’re in. 

@CrushonIvy Are you into March madness? Who is your pick to win it all and why? #askKerith

I used to be into the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments much more when I was covering college basketball. March Madness is a fun time of year but I’m barely aware of who is good this year beyond Duke and Carolina on the men’s side.

In my bracket, I’m playing it safe. Few upsets. On the strength of Zion Williamson alone, I’m picking Duke to win. That should make Quinn Cook happy. 

Speaking of Cook, check out the latest Road Trippin' podcast where I talk with him and former Duke teammate Austin Rivers about Coach K, the Steph Curry effect, and the best road cities in the NBA.

@eastbaykillas #AskKerith who selects what jerseys teams wear? Is there a jersey schedule available? Just curious as Dubs haven’t worn white at home since November. Thanks! 

Here’s the uniform schedule for the league: https://lockervision.nba.com

The home team decides what uniform they want to wear, in part with the team’s marketing department. 

@LookItAmy Who holds the title as best golfer on the Warriors? #askKerith

This question made me smile, and I consulted a Warriors staff member who is in the know. 

He ordered team golfers like so: Steph Curry, Jonnie West, Steve Kerr, Andre Iguodala, Willie Green, Klay Thompson, and Jarron Collins. 

Steph is really good….like if he devoted himself to golf instead of basketball, he could probably get his tour card. And Jonnie is good too. I was at an event where he caddied for Steph. He trusts Jonnie’s advice.

This reminds me .... Congratulations to Jonnie for his engagement to LPGA Tour champion Michelle Wie! 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Kevin “Pizza Delivery Man” Durant. How cool was it for him to talk to a dad in an elevator, and then go up to the dad’s room with pizza for his sons? That’s the ultimate surprise from a player who goes out of his way to do nice things for kids.

What Warriors' bench performance in big games means for NBA playoffs

What Warriors' bench performance in big games means for NBA playoffs

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors bench does not deserve all the flak it has been getting lately. 

Following the Warriors' big win over the Houston Rockets in which the bench played a major role, I wanted to look back at the three impressive wins Golden State has had in the last two weeks, and see how the bench performed.

Let's begin on March 2nd, when the Warriors were scuffling on a east coast road trip. They had lost two in a row to mediocre Eastern Conference teams, and were heading to a tough environment against the Philadelphia 76ers. To make matters worse for the Dubs, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney were not available (though Joel Embiid also did not play).

So how did the depth of the Warriors respond when thrust into a bigger role? Well, actually very admirably.

The bench combined to make 9-of-15 shots from the field, including 6-of-9 from deep. Damion Lee stepped up and had an impressive game, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Andre Iguodala did Iguodala things, finishing with four rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks. The bench stepped up when needed, and helped propel the Warriors to an important victory. 

The Warriors followed the Philadelphia victory with a rather uninspiring home loss to the Boston Celtics, raising question marks yet again of the focus and execution of the team. So on March 8th, it appeared as if the Dubs were in need of another statement game, this time against the Denver Nuggets, their rivals for the top seed in the Western Conference.

This time around, the Warriors had their full compliment of starters, so the bench played in their routine rotations. And again, in a big game full of intrigue, they answered the call. The bench hit 10-of-16 shots, led by Kevon Looney. He finished with nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, to go with seven rebounds. Iguodala, as expected, had another effective performance, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Like the Warriors starters, the bench played with great focus and energy, dominating Denverin a 17-point victory.

That brings us to Wednesday night in Houston. After another  uninspiring and embarrassing home loss, this time to the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors went to Houston in search of their identity. Like the game in Philadelphia, the Warriors were without one of their biggest stars, as Kevin Durant missed the game with an ankle injury.

The Rockets were also the hottest team in basketball, on the verge of making the Warriors look over their shoulder in the West standings. With all eyes on the Warriors' bench, the reserves rose to the occasion.

The bench made 9-of-17 shots, and played some high-energy defense. The effort attacking the glass on the offensive end led to seven of the Warriors' 12 offensive rebounds, with Looney securing five himself.

Quinn Cook, thrust into a role in the second unit that needed some floor spacing, had a particularly good game. Cook drained all three of his shots, and all in pretty big moments of the game. Alfonzo McKinnie hit a three, making a shot from deep for the third consecutive game for the first time since early November. 

[RELATED: Steph turns 31, reveals why 'I try to protect my joy']

To put it simply, when the final plus-minus totals were calculated after the game, the starters combined for a minus-8 and the bench was a plus-18.

Like the Warriors as a whole, the bench performs better under pressure and when high-level focus and execution is required of them. With the playoffs coming around the corner, that is great news for a Warriors team that needs to start living up to the mantra, "Strength in Numbers."

Warriors' Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston expected to play vs. Nuggets

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USATSI

Warriors' Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston expected to play vs. Nuggets

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston are expected to play Friday night against the Nuggets, Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced Thursday afternoon. 

Thompson, who injured his knee in last week's loss to the Magic, underwent an MRI Monday that revealed no damage. In Thompson's absence, Golden State suffered a 128-95 loss to the Celtics Tuesday night, the team's worst home loss under coach Kerr. Livingston also missed Tuesday's game with neck spasms. 

Both players went through a full practice Thursday afternoon, with Thompson looking spry in a post-practice one-on-one game against Jordan Bell. 

Kevon Looney, who's missed the last two games with pelvic soreness, is also expected to return to the lineup Friday. Following Thursday's practice, Looney said his absence was a precautionary measure by the training staff after he began feeling soreness in recent weeks, but that the injury has improved. 

"I'm feeling good," Looney said. "I had a couple of good days of rehab and I'm feeling much better and I feel ready to play."