Warriors

In Game 2, Warriors aim to accomplish feat for first time since 1989

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usati

In Game 2, Warriors aim to accomplish feat for first time since 1989

HOUSTON -- It has been 29 years since the Warriors opened a playoff series on the road with back-to-back wins. That’s the goal Wednesday night, when they face the Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

In taking Game 1 on Monday, the Warriors seized homecourt advantage. If they take Game 2, it’ll be the first time they opened with consecutive road victories since 1989, when they won the first two games of a first-round series at Utah en route to a three-game sweep of the best-of-five series.

Moreover, it would put the Warriors in control of the best-of-seven series, which moves to Oracle Arena this weekend.

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: Curry's defense on Harden; Rockets smart to attack Looney?]

BETTING LINE

Rockets by 1.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kevin Durant vs. James Harden: These two won’t defend each other very often, but whichever star has the more effective overall game gives his team a decided advantage. Harden outscored Durant (41-37) in Game 1 but also committed twice as many turnovers (4-2) and was a welcome mat on defense while Durant played mostly solid defense.

[RELATED: James Harden: Rockets 'in this together; I can't do it by myself']

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries reported.

GAME OFFICIALS

Ken Mauer, David Guthrie, Ed Malloy, Pat Fraher (alternate)

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing 116-108 on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

HOUSTON’S D: Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is not generally associated with defense, but his team finished sixth in defensive rating in the regular season and is third in the playoffs. Defense was absent in Game 1, as the Warriors scored 54 points off uncontested shots while shooting 52.5 percent.

CURRY’S RHYTHM: Five games into his return after a long layoff, Stephen Curry continues to seek rhythm and timing. His movements have gotten better, but he clearly is not at his physical peak. He appeared to tweak his left knee in Game 1 but insists it’s a non-issue. He’s still worth keeping on eye on.

WARRIORS DISCIPLINE: While the Rockets were running isolation plays for either James Harden or Chris Paul, who combined for 64 points, they didn’t get much help. Corner shooters PJ Tucker, Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute combined to go 3-of-17 from the field. Credit the Warriors for being disciplined. Can they repeat that?

Steve Kerr calls DeMarcus Cousins' return "highly unlikely"

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USA Today

Steve Kerr calls DeMarcus Cousins' return "highly unlikely"

OAKLAND - Injured center DeMarcus Cousins joined the Warriors Tuesday for the first time since rapturing his quad last week. 

But don't expect that to be a sign he'll be back this season. 

"Who knows," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following Tuesday's practice. "But at this point, conservatively it's highly unlikely."

Cousins, who injured his quad last week, participated in the team's morning film session and went through a rehab session with Warriors director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini. Following practice, he made a brief appearance on the floor with Warriors staffers without a limp. 

In the days following his injury, Cousins has been away from the team as the Warriors traveled to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference first-round series against the Clippers. For the time being, Golden State is functioning as if Cousins will not be back in the near future. 

"Not great, as you'd expect" Kerr when he asked about the prospects of Cousins' return this season. "But it was good to see him, obviously, we've been gone six days. We'll see what happens in a few weeks once we have a better sense of his healing and his ability to maybe get on the court."

Following the injury, the Warriors didn't put an exact timetable on Cousins' return, holding out hope the big man could make a return. 

“You're probably looking at a couple months' recovery, so it's unlikely," Kerr said last week. But Rick [Celebrini] told me that there are occasions where that injury heals faster. So we're leaving the door open, obviously." 

This season has been arguably the roughest of Cousins' career. After tearing his Achilles last January, he signed with the Warriors for $5.3 million after he said he didn't field any significant offers in free agency. 

As a result of the injury, missed the first 45 games of this season, making his debut Jan. 18 against the Clippers. In his final 15 games of the season, he averaged 17.3 points (on 51 percent shooting), 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in hopes of a summer payday. In just his second career postseason game, hopes for a big contract this summer took a hit when he hurt his quad. 

"More than anything, I'm just crushed for DeMarcus," Kerr said last week. "He's been waiting his whole career for [the playoffs], and then the second game, he goes down after putting all that work in to recover from the Achilles. And he's had a great season for us — he's really come along the last month or so. I just feel bad for him."

Clippers adviser Jerry West believes Warriors weak point is very clear

Clippers adviser Jerry West believes Warriors weak point is very clear

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Jerry West knows a thing or two about basketball.

He was named NBA Executive of the Year in 1995 and 2004 and is widely considered one of the best general managers in league history.

So when he looks at the 2018-19 Golden State Warriors, does he see any potential issues with the roster?

“To me, their bench is their weak point, there’s no question it’s their bench," West told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "But at this time of year, you don’t need it that much. You get extra days off, so guys play 40 minutes or more if need be.

"Guys can play more when you’re chasing something that is really unique and important.”

With DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones sidelined, the Warriors definitely don't have a lot of depth at the center position anymore.

Shaun Livingston is dealing with nagging knee soreness, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko aren't in the rotation against the Clippers, Quinn Cook didn't play in Game 4 and Jacob Evans isn't ready to contribute. 

On the flip side, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney have been spectacular, Andrew Bogut has more than exceeded expectations in his return to the Dubs and Alfonzo McKinnie is a useful wing with elite rebounding skills.

[RELATEDPatrick Beverley explains why he doesn't talk trash to Steph Curry]

When you are top-heavy like the Warriors, the bench isn't going to register impressive statistics.

“When we go out there and the Warriors announce their starting lineup, you say, ‘Oh my gosh, doesn’t look like a fair fight,'” West said to The Athletic. “It’s like David and Goliath, that’s what it is. It almost doesn’t seem fair when they put their lineup out there."

And as he is very much aware, West is partially responsible for that having worked for Golden State from 2011 to 2017.

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