Warriors

Kevin Durant tells Serge Ibaka why Warriors would have beaten Raptors

Kevin Durant tells Serge Ibaka why Warriors would have beaten Raptors

It's always fun to hear two people talk some friendly trash to each other.

It's even better when the people involved are Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

On the most recent episode of "How Hungry Are You?" from Bleacher Report, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates had the following back-and-forth about the 2019 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Raptors:

Ibaka: "Do you think if you didn't go down, you guys would beat us?"

Durant: "For sure."

Ibaka: "Are you sure about that? Are you 100 percent, my brother? We were hot, baby ... we were hot. We were like fire. Nobody could stop us."

Durant: "I could. I was like Sub-Zero (laughing)."

Ibaka: "We may go to Game 7, but the way we were balling -- had confidence."

Durant: "Let's put it like this -- if ya'll go into a Game 7 with the two-time champs, you're not winning that game. You're not. Ya'll had to win in six, which ya'll did. But if I was out there, ya'll wouldn't have beat us at home."

Ibaka: "We almost beat you guys in five, you know that right?"

Durant: "Yeah. Game 6, ya'll almost lost anyway. Klay [Thompson] went out, and ya'll almost lost. So Game 6, we would have smacked ya'll at the crib. And then Game 7 -- I know for sure you could hear a pin drop in your locker room walking into that arena. Ya'll would have been so shook."

Ibaka: "Yeah."

Durant: "So shook."

Ibaka: "Yeah, you're right about that (laughter). But we were hot, so we the champs."

[RELATED: Steph knows he has no room for error with Dubs this season]

Awesome stuff.

Durant didn't bring up the fact that he missed the first four games of the series, while Klay and Kevon Looney were sidelined for Game 3 in Oakland.

I think we all can agree that if both teams were fully healthy from the start, Golden State wins the series in six games max.

But that's not how life works.

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Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

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USATSI

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

If any stretch of the season is ideal for the Warriors to toss their starving fans four or five crumbs, it is the next 10 games, beginning Monday night against the Grizzlies.

Reason No. 1: The Warriors are about as healthy as they’re going to be for at least the next three months. They could suit up 12 players against Memphis.

Reason No. 2: They’re at home for eight of the next 10 games, and the only back-to-back set comes on the last weekend of December.

Reason No. 3: They’re staring directly at the best opportunity they’ll have this season to string together three consecutive victories.

Reason No. 4: The trade market swings wide open on Dec. 15, and productive players are vastly more attractive to teams seeking someone able to help in the second half of the season and, possibly, the playoffs.

And it doesn’t hurt that from a realistic and long-range viewpoint, a solidly competitive three weeks could build good habits without sacrificing the likelihood of finishing with a record that would assure a premium lottery pick. There will be plenty of games marked with an “L.”

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the next 10:

Monday night: Grizzlies at home

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors once went 145 games without back-to-back losses. With Grizzlies' team engine Ja Morant coping with a balky back – he has missed the last four games – this is an excellent chance put some life in Chase Center with their first consecutive wins this season.

Win probability: Very high.

Wednesday night: Knicks at home

It’s the Knicks, on their first swing through Western Conference, on the second night of a back-to-back set. Enough said.

Win probability: Very high.

Friday night: Jazz away

Even with the tremendous Warriors teams of recent seasons, playing at altitude on the road was never a walk. Mike Conley’s hamstring is barking, but Emmanuel Mudiay is playing well.

Win probability: Very low.

Dec. 15: Kings at home

The first meeting this season between Kerr and former assistant Luke Walton, and also the first reunion of former Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein and his former teammates. One question: Can Cauley-Stein bring intensity? Another question: Who can guard Sacramento gunslinger Buddy Hield?

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 18: Trail Blazers away

Tough place to win with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Tougher to win without them. The Dame-CJ-Melo trio poses problems for a Warriors defense than can be exploited. This game will need the best of Draymond Green at both ends, and some loud offense from Eric Paschall.

Win probability: Low.

Dec. 20: Pelicans at home

Will Zion be back? It doesn’t look likely. Has anybody seen Derrick Favors? New Orleans is a mess right now, and a turnaround in the next couple weeks seems unlikely.

Win probability: High.

Dec. 23: Timberwolves at home

Minny is one of only four teams to beat the Warriors at least once in each of the last four seasons, and those Warriors were four levels better than this year's squad. Coach Ryan Saunders seems to have unlocked the secret to Andrew Wiggins’ potential. But this is the second of three straight games in the Pacific time zone.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 25: Rockets at home

The simple game plan is to keep James Harden off the free-throw line and force Russell Westbrook to launch jump shots. If either fails to find a rhythm – and there’s a decent chance of that – the Warriors can pull off the upset.

Win probability: Low.

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly "not pushing" to trade D-Lo right now]

Dec. 27: Suns at home

The Suns are dealing with the growing pains that come with a new coach determined to change the culture. They’re quite good some nights, quite unsightly on others. But they have two players, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr., that are capable of causing problems. Big man Deandre Ayton will back by then and will have had a couple weeks of conditioning.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 28: Mavericks at home

It was widely believed the Mavericks might be good enough find a low seed to the playoffs, but Luka is trying to take them even higher. It’s Luka Time, and the Warriors – on Night No. 2 of a back-to-back – must be at their best to avoid being another canvas for this kid’s wizardry.

Win probability: Low.

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

When the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell as part of Kevin Durant's sign-and-trade with the Nets this past offseason and signed the star point guard to a four-year, $117 million contract, it seemed like a bit of an odd fit.

How would Russell fit with fellow point guard Steph Curry? What about when shooting guard Klay Thompson became healthy? More than anything, it looked like Golden State added a great trade asset. 

But the Warriors reportedly are in no rush to trade D-Lo. 

“If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one NBA general manager recently said to Heavy.com's Sean Deveney. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised.

"That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”

If the Warriors do indeed have a trade in mind, they soon can start taking calls. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits the Dubs from parting ways with Russell until Dec. 15. 

Since acquiring the All-Star, general manager Bob Myers has made it clear the Warriors aren't trying to get rid of Russell. 

"We didn't sign him with the intention of just trading him," Myers said to reporters on July 15. 

Russell has been a bright spot on the 5-19 Warriors when healthy. He has been limited to only 12 games while dealing with a sprained right thumb, but has averaged a career-high 22.3 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. 

[RELATED: Why R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball might interest Warriors]

The Warriors truly won't be able to evaluate the 23-year-old's future with the team until he has played more with Curry and the rest of the injured Dubs.

Golden State has until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to move Russell, but as of now, that doesn't seem to be at the top of the team's priority list.