Warriors

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant is a four-time NBA scoring champion. He's averaging 18.6 shots per game this season, and 18.8 for his career.

So, seeing a box score where he attempted six shots in 35 minutes is strange.

After the Warriors beat the Pistons 121-114 on Sunday night in Oakland, Durant and head coach Steve Kerr addressed his low shot total in Golden State's bounce-back win.

"Kevin is such a great, talented player that he can just do whatever he wants on the floor," Kerr told the media at Oracle. "So, he decided to be a distributor tonight. Obviously, 11 assists, I thought his defense was great. He's just one of those guys that's so talented that whatever he chooses to do that night, that's what he does."

Durant took a big-picture outlook on his stat line.

"I'm a well-rounded player and I can still affect the game without taking a bunch of shots," Durant told the media. "I thought I passed the ball well, I thought I played a great floor game. I know you're used to putting me in a box as a player, but I've grown."

In the Warriors' loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, Durant took 25 shots. Steph Curry sat out, putting the onus on Durant to carry the offense. But he wasn't happy with how he played against Dallas, and didn't want to make the same mistakes against Detroit.

"I didn't want to force shots tonight, and some of the shots I would have took tonight would have been forced, and last night I forced a bunch," Durant said.

[RELATED: Kerr on Curry's rest plan]

Durant finished with 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Why Warriors' Steph Curry is 'biggest variable' in 2019-20 NBA season

Why Warriors' Steph Curry is 'biggest variable' in 2019-20 NBA season

The Warriors have been the NBA's model of consistency for half a decade, but things are going to look much different this season.

With Klay Thompson rehabbing from a torn ACL and Kevin Durant doing the same from a ruptured Achilles in a new uniform, Golden State enters coach Steve Kerr's sixth season in an uncertain position. The Warriors still have two-time MVP Stephen Curry, however, and perhaps no player in the league will have a bigger effect on their team's fortunes than Curry. 

"I think the biggest variable in the NBA right now is what that No. 30 does this season," NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh said on NBC Sports' NBA Season Tip-Off Show on Tuesday. "How many games does he play? How much load management is he going to see in the regular season this year and how many games is he going to take off? Because in the preseason, he was on fire." 

As Haberstroh noted, Curry averaged 39.5 points per 36 minutes during the preseason. Haberstroh predicted Curry would win the scoring title in his season preview column, and Curry's preseason total easily would have led NBA players who played at least 1,000 regular-season minutes last season. This preseason provides a small sample size, but Curry was similarly explosive away from Durant in the last three seasons and before he joined the Warriors in the first place. 

"[If Curry's] going to win the scoring title and the Warriors win 50 games, I think he's going to be in the MVP conversation," Haberstroh said. 

[RELATED: How Kawhi, Clippers will give Dubs some Finals déjà vu]

Fifty wins will be a tall task, given how loaded the Western Conference is and how much learning-on-the-fly the Warriors will have to do following an offseason of change. NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Monte Poole noted that Curry will have to get to know a new backcourt partner in D'Angelo Russell, but he will also have to contend with opposing defenses' undivided focus. 

"I think, when you look at Steph, he's going to get a lot of attention this year," Poole said. "Teams are going to basically say, 'You know what, don't let Steph beat us. Anybody else? Fine. But don't let Steph beat us.'"

Curry undoubtedly is used to the spotlight, but how he responds to a brighter one during his 11th NBA season will determine the Warriors' fortunes in 2019-20. 

Why Clippers' win vs. Lakers should give Warriors NBA Finals déjà vu

Why Clippers' win vs. Lakers should give Warriors NBA Finals déjà vu

The Clippers' acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George gave LA's other franchise what arguably is the NBA's most formidable duo.

It turns out the Clippers are quite alright with just one of them in the lineup.

Without George, who is sidelined for about a month after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, the Clippers beat the crosstown rival Lakers 112-102 on the first night of the season Wednesday. The Clippers' win followed a playbook the Warriors know all too well after their NBA Finals loss in June, and it's one they'll surely see again Thursday night at Chase Center in Golden State's season opener.

Leonard led the Clippers with 30 points Tuesday night, and he was the only Clips starter to score in double figures. The reigning NBA Finals MVP was aided by four double-digit scorers off the Clippers' bench, though, as Lou Williams (21 points), Maurice Harkless (17), JaMychal Green (12) and Maurice Harkless (10) all shot at least 50 percent from the field.

Sound familiar? It should, as the Clippers looked a lot like the Toronto Raptors did in a six-game NBA Finals win over the Warriors.

Leonard led the way in June, but he got a lot of help from his former teammates. Five other Raptors scored at least 10 points per game in The Finals, including bench players Fred VanVleet (14.0 points per game) and Serge Ibaka (11.3). Toronto's depth out-shined Golden State's, as only the Warriors' original big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored in double figures during The Finals.

[RELATED: Kerr clarifies his comments on Klay's ACL recovery timeline]

The Warriors were without Kevin Durant for all but 12 minutes of The Finals, and lacked Thompson down the stretch in Game 6. Golden State will miss both of them Thursday, given Durant's offseason departure for the Brooklyn Nets and Thompson's continued recovery from a torn ACL. D'Angelo Russell was brought in to fill the void, but the Warriors' season opener could look a lot like the end of their last one four months ago. 

Down a star, the Warriors will have to stop Leonard and a very deep supporting cast. He will wear red, white and blue in San Francisco rather than red and black in Oakland, but in the absence of George, Leonard's early Clippers tenure will give the Warriors plenty of déjà vu.