Warriors

The lesson of this second-place Warriors team at the All-Star break

warriors-confused-us.jpg
AP

The lesson of this second-place Warriors team at the All-Star break

And so ends a thoroughly confusing half-season for the Golden State Warriors – doing all the things you love and hate them for in one fell swoop.
 
In losing, 123-117, at Portland, they showed their full game. Big game by one of the Gang Of Four (Kevin Durant this time)? Check. Lousy start? Check. Big rally after lousy start? Check. Defensive lapses? Check. Impassioned yet disgusted pregame soliloquy by Steve Kerr on the manifest inadequacies of modern American thought? Check, and mate.
 
Of those things, the Kerr attack on the Florida school shooting was the most meaningful development of an otherwise meh evening, but Kerr’s having to explain to us again what we should already know is almost a default position now – like everything else about this season.
 
The Warriors go into the All-Star Break in second place in the Western Conference, which is pretty much what they deserve. They have lost the standings initiative through the sin of boredom, and even if leading the conference at the All-Star Break is essentially meaningless (which it is), it is still fascinating to see so many people buying the argument that “they’ll get it together when they need to get it together.” Never has the argument that the regular season doesn’t matter been put so succinctly; not even Sam Hinkie and his Process fetish did it as well.

In other words, Kerr's latest attempt to re-focus the players lasted about as long as you figured it would.

Things can certainly change between now and June; most NBA observers are still banking on it. The notation “pulled attention span, questionable” does not enter their thoughts. They still see the Warriors as clearly superior in any series, and barring catastrophic injury regard them as essentially invulnerable over a seven-game series – which is an interesting analysis given that they’ve only played two, and lost one of those.
 
But unless the Warriors put on a game-by-game pyrospectacular from this point forward and wipe out all traces of this half-plus of the season, this year will be remembered as the oddest of their run. They seem to have given in to their own hype, believing as we all do that they are merely a toggle switch that only needs an educated thumb to start the engines churning again – which they might well be, no matter how occasionally dissatisfying that may seem to the proletariat.
 
If they win their third title in four years, they will meet expectations without exceeding them, and this season is the first of their four long and delightful seasons that actually seems to be providing more length than delight. This is not condemnation, but rather a reminder that not every plan goes according to plan, and winning gets harder each time it is accomplished. That is the lesson of 2018 – so far, anyway.

Warriors vs. Rockets Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

Warriors vs. Rockets Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

OAKLAND – The Utah Jazz, the last team to enter Oracle Arena with a record of recent success against the Warriors, was held to 14 points in the first quarter and left town with a loss despite beating the champs in four of the previous five meetings.

The Warriors hope to do the same to another regular-season nemesis Saturday, when the Rockets, who have won the last three meetings, including two straight in Oakland, come into Oracle.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:00 p.m. with Warriors Outsiders, followed by SportsNet Central. Tipoff of the ABC telecast is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., with a Sports Net Central postgame wrap at immediately after.

Not only did the Warriors (42-16) drop their last two regular-season home games to Houston, but also blew double-digit leads each time. Houston overcame a 20-point third-quarter deficit to take a 135-134 victory on Jan. 3 and won its only visit last season (Oct. 17) by wiping out a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

In short, the Warriors have discovered that no lead is safe against the Rockets.

However, the Rockets (33-25) will be without James Harden, as the MVP candidate will miss the game with a neck strain and flu-like symptoms. He did not participate in a morning walk-through.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry

Rockets

F Eric Gordon
F PJ Tucker
C Clint Capela
G Chris Paul
G Eric Gordon (probable)

[RELATED: Why Morey, Rockets won't miss Oracle Arena]

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Jacob Evans III (L pelvic soreness) is listed as probable. C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) is listed as out.

Rockets: G Harden (cervical strain) is listed as questionable. G/F Iman Shumpert (R knee soreness) is listed as out.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors:: With all rotation players available – Shaun Livingston missed the game Thursday to be with his wife as she delivered their second child – expect the Warriors to go back to a nine-man rotation, with F/G Andre Iguodala, C/F Kevon Looney, Livingston and either F Jonas Jerebko or F Alfonzo McKinnie. ... Given Houston’s reliability on pace and use of high ball screens, minutes could be tricky for Cousins, as Looney has done well under those conditions. ... Durant is shooting 63.9 percent over the last six games. He also is four 3-pointers away from surpassing ex-Warrior Tim Hardaway (1,542) to move into 27th place on the all-time list.

Rockets: Gordon is the likely replacement with Harden out, and Paul will handle the point. Gordon, who has played both SG and SF, struggled with his 3-pointer this season (32.2 percent) but played 38 minutes on Thursday in Los Angeles. ... F Kenneth Faried, who also could move into the starting lineup if Harden is out, has been a solid contributor since signing with Houston last month. He’s averaging 15.7 points (63.4 FG) and 9.9 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game. His playing time will be impacted by Capela’s return Thursday after a 15-game absence with a thumb injury.

Officials: David Guthrie (chief), Nick Buchert, Ben Taylor

Warriors vs. Rockets Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

ratto_rockets_warriors.jpg
APUSATSI

Warriors vs. Rockets Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

OAKLAND – Utah, the last team to enter Oracle Arena with a record of recent success against the Warriors, was held to 14 points in the first quarter and left town with a loss despite beating the champs in four of the previous five meetings.

The Warriors hope to do the same to another regular-season nemesis Saturday, when the Rockets, who have won the last three meetings, including two straight in Oakland, come into Oracle.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 o’clock with Warriors Outsiders, followed by Sports Net Central. Tipoff of the ABC telecast is scheduled for 5:30, with a Sports Net Central postgame wrap at immediately after.

Not only did the Warriors (42-16) drop their last two regular-season home games to Houston, but also blew double-digit leads each time. Houston overcame a 20-point third-quarter deficit to take a 135-134 victory on Jan. 3 and won its only visit last season (Oct. 17) by wiping out a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

In short, the Warriors have discovered that no lead is safe against the Rockets.

There is a chance, however, the Rockets (33-25) will be without James Harden, as the MVP candidate is listed his questionable with neck soreness. He did not participate in a morning walk-through and his status will be updated before tipoff.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F – Kevin Durant F – Draymond Green C – DeMarcus Cousins G – Klay Thompson G – Stephen Curry

Rockets

F – F – PJ Tucker C – Clint Capela G – Chris Paul G – James Harden

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Jacob Evans III (L pelvic soreness) is listed as probable. C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) is listed as out.

Rockets: G Harden (cervical strain) is listed as questionable. G/F Iman Shumpert (R knee soreness) is listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors:: With all rotation players available – Shaun Livingston missed the game Thursday to be with his wife as she delivered their second child – expect the Warriors to go back to a nine-man rotation, with F/G Andre Iguodala, C/F Kevon Looney, Livingston and either F Jonas Jerebko or F Alfonzo McKinnie.. . . Given Houston’s reliability on pace and use of high ball screens, minutes could be tricky for Cousins, as Looney has done well under those conditions.. . .Durant is shooting 63.9 percent over the last six games. He also is four 3-pointers away from surpassing ex-Warrior Tim Hardaway (1,542) to move into 27th place on the all-time list.

Rockets: If Harden is ruled out, Eric Gordon is the likely replacement, with Paul handing the point. Gordon, who has played both SG and SF, struggled with his 3-pointer this season (32.2 percent) but played 38 minutes on Thursday in Los Angeles.. . . F Kenneth Faried, who also could move into the starting lineup if Harden is out, has been a solid contributor since signing with Houston last month. He’s averaging 15.7 points (63.4 FG) and 9.9 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game. His playing time will be impacted by Capela’s return Thursday after a 15-game absence with a thumb injury.

Officials: David Guthrie (chief), Nick Buchert, Ben Taylor