Warriors

NBA Gameday: Draymond vs Griffin key as Warriors battle Clippers

NBA Gameday: Draymond vs Griffin key as Warriors battle Clippers

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors and Clippers will go after each other late Saturday afternoon at Oracle Arena, one leading man may not make it to the stage and the other definitely won’t be part of the action.

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is listed as questionable and his Los Angeles counterpart, Chris Paul, absolutely will not be in uniform.

Can a confrontation between these old enemies, without their All-Star leaders, still deliver typical Warriors-Clippers drama?

Curry has not missed a game this season. If he is unable to play, the Warriors (39-7) likely will turn to veteran Shaun Livingston.

The Clippers (30-17) were on a seven-game win streak when Paul went down but have since lost three of four with Austin Rivers, son of LA coach Doc Rivers, orchestrating the offense.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 11.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green vs. Blake Griffin: Green’s rise to prominence began in the 2014 playoffs, when he locked up and frustrated Griffin throughout an electrifying seven-game series. Little has changed. Green is one of the league’s top defenders, and Griffin is by turns spectacular and ordinary. Griffin returned this week after a five-week absence in the wake of arthroscopic knee surgery. He’s still rounding into playing condition, but he’ll need to be good for LA to have a chance.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (L quad soreness) is listed as questionable, but coach Steve Kerr expects him to play. C/F David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.

Clippers: G Chris Paul (L thumb ligament tear) and F Brice Johnson (herniated disc) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Clippers: 7-3.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won 15 of the 20 meetings, including the last seven in a row. They have not lost to the Clippers since Christmas Day 2014.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE LINE: LA leads the NBA in drawing personal fouls and ranks fourth in free throw attempts, making this a frequent factor in victories. The Warriors want to avoid sending a parade of shooters to the line, as it will slow the game and also may help the wounded Clippers keep it close down the stretch.

THE BENCHES: Since joining the Clippers in 2012, Jamal Crawford is averaging 19.2 points per game against the Warriors. Though he turns 37 in March, he remains a force off the bench. He now has a capable sidekick in Marreese Speights, who is shooting 40.4 percent from deep and is one of two reserves averaging at least 10 points. Andre Iguodala & Co. will need to be on their game.

THE AIR SHOW: The Clippers are the original Lob City, with Paul flipping passes above the rim to DeAndre Jordan and Griffin. Replacement PG Austin Rivers may try similar tactics, but CP3 is a master at it. Meanwhile, the Warriors have own version of the alley-oop play, with the ball going up to JaVale McGee or, occasionally, Durant.

Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind

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AP

Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind

Grass is green, the sky is blue, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is still obsessed with knocking off the Warriors.

Morey admitted as much in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, telling the paper that "a very high percentage" of the Rockets' decisions this offseason are made with one thing on their mind:

Same as last year, it's very likely to win the title we're going to have to beat the Warriors at some point. We're doing what we can to prepare for them. To me, that's what any rational person would do. I'm intrigued by some thinking it's odd that we say that. Maybe because it's not a norm. Ask any fan, 'Who do you have to beat to win the title?' They're going to say 'the Warriors.' It seems like [general manager] speak or coachspeak to not say that.

Morey told anybody who would ask last season that the Rockets were single-mindedly obsessed with beating the Warriors in the playoffs. Houston came close last season, jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals, before Golden State stormed back to win the final two games in Rockets star Chris Paul's injury absence.

Morey responded with a substantial makeover of his roster. Defensive stoppers Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza are gone, while Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Marquese Chriss, James Ennis and Brandon Knight are in. The Rockets were one of the West's best defensive teams last season, and Morey expects the team to withstand the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute.

"We can be [as strong defensively]," Morey told the Chronicle. "They were both extremely good defenders. So it will be a challenge. That was a big part of our meeting. [Assistant coach Roy Rogers] was walking through what changes and how excited he was with what he was planning to do and the personnel we have to be better than last year."

Morey -- as well as the Warriors -- will get a first look at whether or not Houston's offseason was successful on Nov. 17, when the Rockets host the defending NBA champions.  

Kevin Durant follows ex-Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook on Instagram

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USATSI

Kevin Durant follows ex-Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook on Instagram

There might be hope for Jimmy Butler to mend fences in Minnesota after all.

It appears ex-Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are on better terms. Durant started following the Thunder point guard on Instagram on Saturday.

Durant and Westbrook played together for eight seasons in Oklahoma City, but their relationship seemingly turned sour two years ago after Durant joined the Warriors in free agency. Westbrook reportedly wasn't happy Durant spurned OKC for the Bay Area, and the two jawed at times during various Thunder-Warriors tilts.

But the icy relationship seemed to thaw at February's NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Durant and Westbrook again played for the same team, and it appeared they were enjoying themselves.

That was a departure from the previous year -- Durant's first with the Warriors -- and the back-to-back Finals NBA MVP took the blame for their beef. 

"I feel like I f---ed that up," Durant said at the time. "I feel like I made it a thing when it shouldn't have been."

For his part, Westbrook said the weekend in February was "normal." But, as of this writing, Westbrook still does not follow Durant on the platform. He did, however, post this image on his Instagram story to show where he stood.

Well, where he stood physically, at least.