Warriors

Gameday: Classic duel of Curry vs Kyrie as Warriors take on Celtics

Gameday: Classic duel of Curry vs Kyrie as Warriors take on Celtics

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here

They’re the hottest teams in the NBA and they own the best records in their respective conferences, and that explains why TD Garden will be white-hot with intensity when the Warriors and Celtics meet on Thursday.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:05.

The Warriors (11-3) have won seven in a row as they begin a four-game road trip on the East Coast. A bruised thigh kept Stephen Curry out of the game against Orlando on Monday night, but practiced Wednesday and is expected to rejoin the lineup.

Though the Celtics (13-2) underwent a roster makeover in the offseason and opened the season by losing their first two games, they have not lost since and will bring a 13-game win streak into the game.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 7.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving: Arguably the two best floor leaders in the NBA today, with Curry leading the championship race 2-1 and the MVP race 2-0. Curry has the benefit of superior scorers, notably Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, to ride with. With Hayward out, Irving absolutely has to get buckets. This is a classic duel, even when they don’t always guard each other, and they’ll spend a lot of time on each other in this game. Beware of the close game, for Irving is a fantastic closer.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (R thigh bruise) will play after missing one game. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Celtics: F Gordon Hayward (L ankle fracture) is listed as out.

GAME OFFICIALS

James Capers (crew chief), Tyler Ford and Pat Fraher.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams have split two games in each of the past two seasons, with each winning on the other’s court. The Warriors have won seven of the last 10 meetings overall, including the last four in Boston. Their last loss at TD Garden was on March 1, 2013.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

IMMOVABLE VS. IRRESISTIBLE: The Warriors lead the league in scoring, 119 points per game, and offensive rating at 116.1. The Celtics allow a league-low 94.5ppg and own a league-best 95.8 defensive rating. Boston’s length (four of the top six players have 7-foot wingspans) and switching ability stifles opposing offenses, which is how it has the league’s best record despite its 26th-best field-goal percentage. Can the Warriors create holes? Don’t be surprised if there’s more pick-and-roll than usual.

THE VERSATILE FOURS: Draymond Green of the Warriors and Al Horford of the Celtics are power forwards who sometimes masquerade as centers. They’re superb defenders, capable of guarding multiple positions. They can score inside and out; Horford is shooting 48.8 percent from deep, Green 38.3. Green will be the primary defender on Horford, but expect Horford to split time defending Green and Durant.

THE BENCH WAR: Warriors reserves are shooting a league-best 54.2 percent, while Boston is firing at a league-worst 35.9 percent. Worse, Boston’s bench is shooting 29.2 percent beyond the arc to 35.7 for the Warriors. Unless the Celtics work some magic with rotations, their second unit is in danger of being scorched by the deeper Warriors.

Bob Myers had a mandate for Steve Kerr's phone call with DeMarcus Cousins

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USATSI

Bob Myers had a mandate for Steve Kerr's phone call with DeMarcus Cousins

Over his first five NBA seasons combined, DeMarcus Cousins attempted 69 3-pointers.

He made 11 of them.

In 2015-16, Cousins went 70-for-210 from distance -- 33.3 percent.

In 2016-17, He made 131 of his 363 attempts -- 36.3 percent.

Last season, he shot over 35 percent from deep (104-for-294).

[RELATED: Did the Pelicans offer DeMarcus Cousins a contract? 'Only me and Dell Demps know what was said']

Cousins is a beast in the paint, but the 3-point shot has definitely become a part of his game.

At Cousins' introductory press conference on Thursday, Warriors GM Bob Myers discussed what the four-time All-Star brings to the Warriors.

He also shared a funny story from July 2 -- the day that Cousins to Golden State became a reality.

“It’s a different dimension. It’s not something we’ve ever had, as far as a low post threat, since I’ve been here ... prior to him talking to Steve (Kerr), we had been talking, and Steve said, ‘I want him on the block, we haven’t had that threat, we can give him the ball, we can play off of him.’

"And he said ‘not out on the perimeter.’ And so Steve was about to get on the phone with Demarcus and I said, ‘Don’t tell him that he can’t shoot any 3s. If you let Draymond shoot 3s, you gotta let Demarcus shoot 3s.’ So steve said ‘Maybe one or two.’"

As we all know, Kerr and Draymond have their history when it comes to the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year shooting 3-pointers.

You may remember Kerr's mother saying during the NBA Finals: “I’m no basketball aficionado, but Draymond shouldn’t be taking those three-pointers.

But back to Cousins.

Clearly, Kerr envisions the big man posting up and causing havoc on the block.

So naturally, it's likely that there will be a moment (or two) during the season when Cousins jacks up some triples and Kerr gets frustrated.

Get your popcorn ready!

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

Bob Myers provides update on where things stand between Warriors, Pat McCaw

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AP

Bob Myers provides update on where things stand between Warriors, Pat McCaw

In late June, the Warriors extended Pat McCaw a qualifying offer (worth $1,744,951) to make him a restricted free agent.

He is yet to sign an offer sheet with another team.

If he does, the Warriors will have the ability to match.

So where do things stand between McCaw and Golden State?

Warriors GM Bob Myers provided an update when talking to Tim Kawakami on the TK Show podcast:

"We had some good talks in Las Vegas. We want Patrick back, but we understand that it's a process, just like they do. We hope it ends with him coming back as a Warrior.

"That's our focus, that's our goal. Can't say right now what will happen, but that's our hope."

After a promising rookie season, McCaw -- the 38th pick in the 2016 draft -- took a step back last year.

He averaged 4.0 points, 1.4 assists and 0.8 steals over 16.9 minutes per game last season.

The 22-year old shot below 41 percent from the field and below 24 percent from deep.

He missed 13 games in the middle of the season after suffering a wrist injury, and then had the scary fall in Sacramento on March 31.

"We love Pat and we really hope he's back," assistant GM Kirk Lacob said weeks ago. "We'll see how this process plays out."

Stay tuned...

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