Warriors

How Steph Curry played in back-to-back vs. Rockets, Spurs in NBA 2K sim

How Steph Curry played in back-to-back vs. Rockets, Spurs in NBA 2K sim

Editor’s note: With the NBA season halted over coronavirus concerns, Warriors fans have unanswered questions about the team and how it’s building toward the future. To provide answers, NBC Sports Bay Area will simulate some previously scheduled Warriors games through NBA 2K, mixing video-game results with real-life insights for our coverage team.

A number of tests needed to be passed for Steph Curry to be fully integrated back into the Warriors' lineup. Among them was how Curry would play on the road during a back-to-back.

In the virtual world of NBA 2K20, he flourished under the circumstance, leading the Warriors in blowout victories over the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Over the two-game stretch, Curry accumulated 71 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. During the first game of the Texas Two-Step, Curry exploded for 45 points against the Rockets, including 18 in the third quarter, helping the Warriors beat Houston 110-93. A night later, he added 26 points, as the Warriors handily beat the Spurs 108-100.

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Curry's digital outburst came during a unique time for the guard. After missing three months with a broken hand, the former MVP played his first game back from injury March 5. As Curry approached his return, Warriors coach Steve Kerr expressed caution when asked how he'd bring his star guard back into the fold, making the virtual back-to-back uncertain. However, Curry pushed back on the notion of sitting out games down the stretch.

In any case, Curry's digital availability worked out for his newest teammate Andrew Wiggins. Alongside Curry, Wiggins scored 36 points against the Spurs, including 18 points in the first quarter. Nearly two months ago, Wiggins was acquired in large part due to his perceived fit alongside Curry. In their lone real-world experience playing together, the duo combined for 62 points. If virtual play is any indication, Curry and Wiggins are adjusting well to each other's games.

[RELATED: Remembering Warriors' five most memorable playoff moments]

While the two-game stretch was promising, it might not be realistic. Entering league suspension, the Warriors were the worst team in the league, even with Curry on the active roster. While Curry's 2K play was encouraging, he'd still be playing without Klay Thompson, who was going to miss the rest of the season rehabbing a surgically repaired left knee. Additionally, Wiggins' propensity of inconsistent play could hinder a team trying to find rhythm heading into next season.

But as we've found out over the years, Curry makes any team he's on better, whether in actual or virtual reality.

Kevin Durant can return for NBA playoffs if healthy, Adam Silver says

Kevin Durant can return for NBA playoffs if healthy, Adam Silver says

The NBA is prepared to come back on July 31.

Is Kevin Durant?

Durant hasn't played in a game since rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last year. That was his last game with the Warriors before signing with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, and his only competitive on-court action has come in scrimmages with his new teammates. Brooklyn general manager Bobby Marks called the status of Durant's return "a $110 million question" last month, but Marks left the door open for his return.

So did NBA commissioner Adam Silver in an interview with Turner Sports "Inside the NBA" on Thursday, telling panelist Charles Barkley he didn't think it was unfair that players who sustained what were thought to be season-ending injuries to come back when the season restarts.

"We're gonna allow it," Silver said. "And I'd only say, Charles, that this has been the back-and-forth with our teams. There's so much here that's not fair, and we're choosing among multiple bad alternatives given the (coronavirus) pandemic we're dealing with. ... I think, ultimately, to the extent a team has a healthy roster and those players are able to come back, they are eligible to play."

Kevin Durant said last October on ESPN's "First Take" that he didn't expect to play during the 2019-20 season. Durant wasn't set to travel with the Nets when they were scheduled to visit the Warriors at Chase Center on March 12, but the rest of the Nets never played there, either. The NBA suspended its season on March 11 due to the pandemic.

The Nets, as well as the 21 other teams who will make the trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, will play eight regular-season games to determine seeding before the playoffs begin. Brooklyn, currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, would have to play in a play-in series with a slip to eighth or ninth in the conference.

Durant wouldn't be at the peak of his powers after not playing in any games, let alone those with seeding and (eventually) playoff elimination on the line. Inserting a two-time Finals MVP into the lineup would represent a slight improvement, however, as would getting point guard Kyrie Irving, who hasn't played since Feb. 1, back on the court.

[RELATED: Kerr issues message to Warriors fans about his lineups]

Rich Kleiman, Durant's agent, couldn't envision the superstar returning when he was asked about the possibility in March. Nearly three months have passed since then, and close to four will have passed when the Nets would begin training camp in Orlando under the NBA's plan.

If Durant's able to come back, he has the NBA's blessing to do so.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steve Kerr issues message to questioning Warriors fans about lineups

Steve Kerr issues message to questioning Warriors fans about lineups

Over Steve Kerr's first five seasons as head coach, the Warriors reached the NBA Finals every year and won three titles.

Despite the unprecedented success, certain corners of the fan base have been vocal (on Twitter mostly) in criticizing some of the eight-time NBA champion's rotations and/or five-man combinations.

Kerr was a guest Wednesday on "The TK Show" podcast with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, and addressed that topic during a conversation about "The Last Dance" documentary on the Chicago Bulls.

"Phil (Jackson) was the guy who was never afraid to play anyone in any situation," Kerr said. "So when Warriors fans are up in arms about the lineup that I throw out there, they should really blame Phil because that's where I learned it. (laughter)."

Now that's some funny stuff right there.

The franchise adopted the "Strength in Numbers" mantra the moment Kerr arrived in May 2014, and the Warriors' depth definitely played a part in the team's incredible success from 2015 to 2019.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Without diving too deep into it, Dub Nation certainly questioned some of Kerr's decisions in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. But we will leave it at that.

As for Kerr's philosophy, this is what he said back in early May:

[RELATED: Why Kerr calls '14 Dubs memory one of best feelings of life]

The 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year absolutely is right about this. That dynamic is very powerful and helps build a strong culture.

No coach is perfect. In the end, Warriors fans should trust Kerr's judgment and decision making.

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