Warriors

How Andrew Bogut fits with Warriors; biggest challengers in East, West

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Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

How Andrew Bogut fits with Warriors; biggest challengers in East, West

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 week featured a 33-point loss to the Celtics and a major signing -- Andrew Bogut is back! He played four seasons with Golden State (2012 to 2016), so you probably remember him well.

Regarding the loss to Boston, it was interesting to see another big home defeat against a team the Warriors should have been up for. They spent the days leading up to the game talking about how the Celtics have their respect as a tough opponent. It’s worrisome to hear Steve Kerr say his players weren’t ready to compete.

I believe the Warriors have a switch to flip, but good habits don’t materialize out of thin air. It reminds me of driving a stick-shift car: You can’t go from first gear to fifth gear without the steps in the middle. You have to do certain things before you reach full speed.

The Warriors still feel like the team to beat, despite some blips. As Draymond Green put it this week, “If we compete, can’t nobody can beat us ... and even sometimes when we don’t compete, people still can’t beat us.” There’s nothing wrong with their confidence.

Game On!

@iyaayas1991 how do dubs plan to use Bogut? I'm very excited to see him back! #askKerith

Steve Kerr said at practice this week that Bogut’s usage is still to be determined. Although Bogut recently wrapped up an MVP season in Australia’s NBL, he’ll have to readjust to the NBA. It helps that Bogut is coming back to a system he’s familiar with, and reuniting with some old teammates.

I would think Bogut’s usage depends on matchups. He’s a 7-footer and he defends well, so he could frustrate opponents’ centers better than Kevon Looney or Jordan Bell, who are undersized. It really depends on the game.

Via IG @adam_th30 How do you think the chemistry will be between Bogut and Boogie? I know from past seasons Bogut loved getting under Cousins’ skin when they played.

Bogut and Boogie are teammates now. That changes everything.

But you’re right that there was some bad blood. Bogut addressed that when he spoke to media Wednesday night in Australia. Here’s what he said about rejoining the Warriors and Boogie:

“I’ll get to the group chats in a couple of days. ... I’ll probably just wait until I get there. Gotta rekindle my relationship with DeMarcus Cousins because we used to really go at it when he was in Sac. Near scuffles and holds and flagrant fouls, so I’m looking forward to having him on the same team this time.”

In general, when guys are in the same locker room and share the same goal, the past quickly fades. Players also like to say that what happens on the court stays there. You can hate a guy during competition but call him a friend afterward. If there’s anything simmering between Bogut and Boogie from the old days, I imagine it will quickly work itself out.

@Bballtweets3 If the Warriors decide to sign Damion Lee for the playoffs, they'll have to cut someone (assuming Bogut signing goes through). Does the prospect of a roster cut affect the vibe of a locker room? #AskKerith

I’m not sure what will happen with Lee, or who the Warriors would cut in that situation, but I can answer the vibe question. It’s sad to see a teammate go.

It reminds me of the Warriors cutting Omri Casspi last season. When you get to know a guy over the course of a season, you care for him. You’re in the grind together. The players understood why cutting Casspi was a business decision, so there are no hard feelings, but it was nice to see how they embraced him pregame this season when he came to town with the Grizzlies.

Whatever happens, the vibe of the locker room will be OK as the front office makes decisions for the playoffs.

Via IG @pkrjr: Do you think most of the players have close friends that aren’t athletes? Or do you think they mostly surround themselves with other players or maybe former college teammates?

It’s both. It’s good to have friends who knew you before the money came. Players often stay true to friends who knew them in their hometowns or from their college days.

They also have friendships with other people in the NBA. Sports is a very small world. Guys played against each other in college, so a familiarity comes from that. They get to know the other people in their draft class, and they remember who was at training camp with them. It’s a small, tight-knit network.

Very few people on this planet know what it’s like to be a professional athlete, so it’s natural to pal around with people who know what you’re going through.

Via IG @kvlemmon Who do you think is the most formidable opponent for the Warriors this post-season? Western AND Eastern conferences, please!

The first answer I typed here was too nebulous: Good ball movement. Size and quickness. Scoring balance. But so many teams possess those qualities that it felt like I was saying nothing. So I deleted it.

I’m not ready to predict anything. The field is wide and packed with competition. One versus eight isn’t settled yet, let alone who might be an NBA Finals opponent should the Warriors get there.

For the sake of the question, though, in the East, Milwaukee, Toronto, Philly and Boston have my attention. In the West, I’m keeping an eye on Denver, Houston, OKC, Utah, the Clippers, and Sac. Yeah ... that’s a lot of teams.

Via IG craziana: Who is the clown of the team? Which Warriors lighten the mood, especially during times of high tension? Who has the best sense of humor?

Nick Young came to mind, but that was last season.

The Warriors share the comic relief because they’re all good-humored guys. It helps to be good-humored when you’re seeing the same faces day after day. It’s close quarters.

Steph is funny, to a degree he doesn’t always show in front of media. Klay is funny in a quirky way, like not a joke-teller, just who he is. Draymond is a keep-it-real kind of guy, like Andre and Shaun.

I don’t know how to describe KD’s humor, but if I leave him out of this conversation, people will read into it like he’s not part of the team gags. That’s not the case. Boogie is hilarious because he’s frank about things.

The whole coaching staff has a good sense of humor, too. They rip on each other all the time. Laughter is healthy, and this team has plenty.

Via IG @audiodopeboyziso2 How do you get mentally ready for each game?

Preparedness is key. I read the game notes, I read other reporters’ work, I re-listen to the interviews from practice and shootaround. I also take a quick look at the opponents’ stories from the week to see who is playing well or what issues that team is dealing with.

A good part of my job is “in the moment” questions or analysis, so having a sense of the main storylines is important. From there, I can touch on trends with the coaches or players.

Being mentally ready also includes how I present myself. I try to quiet my mind and take a deep breath before it’s my turn on the broadcast. It’s like my vision shrinks and it’s only me and the camera. I pretend the camera is someone I’m talking to on the couch.

@rj1975 Do you go back and rewatch your clips/interviews? #AskKerith

Not often, because I remember how those moments feel. I know if I nailed it or not. I’m tough on myself.

My assessment of a moment can be worse than how viewers saw it. I’ll text my dad sometimes to see if a stumble in a question looked as bad to viewers as it felt to me, and he’s like, “What stumble?” He didn’t notice it. And my dad is honest.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

Warriors enter Game 3 searching for 'killer instinct' they use to have

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Warriors enter Game 3 searching for 'killer instinct' they use to have

LOS ANGELES –The Warriors have played 33 first-round playoff games over the past seven seasons and none was more highly anticipated than their 34th, which comes Thursday night against the Clippers at Staples Center.

That’s where, in Game 3, they’ll answer a question they’ve never had to face: Did they, as a team, learn a lesson about protecting a lead in the postseason?

It’s also where Kevin Durant will answer a question he has not faced since joining the Warriors in July 2016: Is he ready to impose his will?

The two questions combined form a third: Are the No. 1 seed Warriors ready to boot the eighth-seeded Clippers into the offseason?

“When we’re locked in, mentally and physically on both ends of the floor, getting a good shot with every possession and flying around on defense, we can dominate,” Stephen Curry said Thursday after shootaround. “We’ve got to take life out of the building, take life out of the team tonight.”

There is a broad curiosity about Game 3 and how the Warriors will respond. The hours since 10:30 Monday night and 7:30 Thursday night have been and will be filled by NBA fans discussing and debating how the Warriors blew a 31-point third-quarter lead – the biggest giveback in league playoffs history – at home, to Los Angeles in Game 2.

“We can highlight certain things that could have stopped the bleeding down the stretch,” Curry said. “My fouls. Turnovers. Being lackadaisical on defense in terms of not being in the right spots to start possessions and not being able to rotate around. It was a perfect storm of everything happening in their favor and them playing well and us not.

“But we understand that for six quarters, six-and-a-half, really, we were playing amazing basketball. We cannot get too far from that. We’ve got to rebuild that momentum, especially in the first quarter tonight.”

The Warriors are searching for the killer instinct they used to have. The club that holds the NBA record for most consecutive wins after building a double-digit lead, at 114 games – with the last 110 coming under coach Steve Kerr – has devolved into a group that takes pity on its opponent.

We’ve seen them in recent years blow double-digit leads on numerous occasions in the regular season. The 24-point lead to the Grizzlies that turned into a nine-point home loss on Jan. 6, 2017. The 17-point third-quarter lead to Houston on opening night of the 2017-18 season and the 14-point third quarter lead to Detroit in October less than two weeks later.

And then the one that seemed to sting more than the others, allowing the Rockets to come back from a 20-point third-quarter deficit last on Jan. 3. That looked to be the tipping point. The Warriors, angered, won 11 in a row, six by at least 18 points and four by more than 25. The “killer instinct” was back.

Then puzzling came the final six weeks, when the Warriors blew a 13-point third-quarter at Orlando, a 16-point second-quarter lead to the Suns at Oracle Arena and, finally, a 19-point third-quarter lead at Minnesota.

Game 2, however, was a giveback of epic proportions, in the playoffs, where the Warriors generally seek and destroy. They instead did a lot of standing around. They were destroyed.

“It was a very strange night for us,” Kerr said. “We’ve been at this now for years, but this was definitely the strangest playoff game I can remember our team having. The vibe in the second half and the letting go of the rope, or however you want to put it, I haven’t seen our team in that position before.”

It was a night when the performance of the Warriors sent a message around the league, becoming a motivational tool for other coaches, as in “No lead is safe in the playoffs. Look at what happened to the Warriors.”

Game 3 will tell us if these Warriors truly absorbed the lessons of Game 2 and can use it in real time as a cautionary tale and have learned, once and for all, from such a tangible illustration.

Patrick Beverley's impact on Kevin Durant has been grossly overblown

Patrick Beverley's impact on Kevin Durant has been grossly overblown

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) 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.

After an epic meltdown that allowed the Los Angeles Clippers to come back and win Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff series, the Warriors have been the subject of warranted scrutiny. The defense fell asleep, the offense was reckless and the team became complacent as the Clippers stormed back.

One storyline, however, that is being overblown is that Patrick Beverley is shutting down Kevin Durant, leading to the Warriors' demise.

Let's first start with what Beverley has been effective in doing, and that is contributing to Durant's turnovers and early exits. Beverley has clearly been a pest to Durant, and his constant antics and pressure have gotten under the Warriors star's skin to an extent. Beverley is consistently grabbing, pulling, slapping, hugging, smothering and hounding Durant, putting the pressure on the officials to call fouls on every single play, which they aren't going to do. Because of that, Beverley knows that while he will be called for a few fouls, the refs will swallow their whistle a majority of the time, allowing him to pester Durant for much of the game.

On the flip side, when Durant creates space from Beverley by using a forearm or shoulder a few times a game, the officials have called an offensive foul which has further frustrated Durant.

Furthermore, these plays have put Durant in foul trouble which forced him to make an early exit in Game 2, and caused him to rack up multiple technical fouls in Game 1 when he was ejected.

Beyond those particular scenarios, Durant has been highly efficient scoring the ball and is playing the same way that led to many Warriors victories late in the season. Many are attributing Beverley's defense to Durant's low field-goal attempt totals. But that is not the case, as Durant has not been shooting a high volume of shots for weeks now and it has been working.

In the final weeks of the regular season, Durant had five games in which he shot the ball less than 10 times, and all those games were dominant Warriors wins. He has taken on the role of playmaker, moving the ball in a fast-paced offense while finding specific times to aggressively attack the rim or shoot the ball.

In the final six games of the regular season, Durant averaged only 16.5 points per game. So far after two games in the playoffs, Durant is averaging 22 points per game while shooting a highly-efficient 56 percent from the field. Durant has also taken 18 free-throw attempts in these last two playoff games, as opposed to 11 over the final six regular season games.

Through six and a half quarters to start the series, the Warriors were in absolute control, dominating the Clippers on both sides of the ball. Beverly was hounding Durant that entire time and it had little effect on the Warriors' offense. Over the final quarter and a half, the Warriors fell asleep at the wheel, leading to a Clippers comeback victory.

[RELATED: Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr at odds over how much Warriors star should shoot]

If Durant did not foul out in Game 2, then theoretically he could have helped the Warriors find a way to secure a win. And Beverley was one of the key reasons that Durant was not in the game.

But overall, Beverley's effect on Durant has been overblown, and it would not be surprising to see Durant emphasize that on the court at Staples Center on Thursday night in Game 3.