NBA Gameday: Durant returns home, Curry vs Wall as good as it gets

NBA Gameday: Durant returns home, Curry vs Wall as good as it gets

Programming note: Warriors-Wizards coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

When the Warriors last visited the nation’s capital, they also stopped at the White House to celebrate their 2015 NBA championship with President Barack Obama.

When they get to Washington on Tuesday, it’ll be strictly business, a game against the rampaging Wizards at Verizon Center.

The Warriors (50-9) are making their second stop in a stretch in which they will play eight games in 13 days, across four different time zones.

Since starting the season 2-8 under new coach Scott Brooks, the Wizards (34-23) have gone 32-15 to climb into top-four playoff position. They are 21-7 since Christmas Day. Their 24-8 home record is fourth best in the NBA.


Warriors by 6.5


Stephen Curry vs. John Wall: Two of the truly elite point guards in the NBA and these All-Stars waged a spectacular shootout last season in D.C., with Curry outscoring Wall 51-41. The Warriors can better survive an off night from Curry than the Wizards can from Wall. Klay Thompson also will make a few runs at Wall.


Warriors: No injuries listed. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Wizards: No injuries listed.


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


Sweeping the two-game series in each of the past two seasons, the Warriors have won four in a row and 10 of the last 11. They’ve won six straight in Washington, with the last loss coming on April 6, 2010.


THE RETURN OF KD: Kevin Durant grew up in the D.C. area, giving the Wizards and their fans hope that upon gaining free agency he might come home. Though Durant still voices his love for the Beltway -- he has a Maryland tattoo -- he never seriously considered returning. He’ll have dozens of family and friends in the building, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. He has been superb in spotlight games.

THE OTHER GUARDS: While most of the focus is directed at the Curry-Wall matchup, shooting guards Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal deserve their share of recognition. Thompson is widely considered the league’s No. 1 two-way shooting guard. Beal, coming into his own, is averaging 22.6 points to Thompson’s 22.0.

BEYOND THE ARC: The Warriors rank third in 3-point shooting percentage, the Wizards fifth. Washington s mall forward Otto Porter’s 45.8-percent mark leads the league. The Warriors, however, generally shoot more threes. They might have to take more shots, and make more, to hold off the home team.

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.

"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 distibutor 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.

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

OAKLAND -- The Warriors can be sensitive about the subject of Steph Curry’s workload. He wants to play every game while striving to be a great husband and father and also making broad use of his massive social platform.

The Warriors understand all of this, and they do not want to obstruct any of it.

Yet workload management is one of the reasons Rick Celebrini was hired last summer to serve as the team’s director of Sports Medicine and Performance. Aided by high-tech fitness tools, he monitors every player for fatigue levels and beyond.

As much as the Warriors hope to nab the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, if not the NBA, everything goes through Celebrini. He is the gatekeeper of player availability. He decided that DeMarcus Cousins will not play in back-to-back games this season, that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston will remain on routine body-maintenance programs and that Curry should miss the occasional game – such as Saturday against the Mavericks.

Curry seemed to benefit from the rest.

He scored 11 points in the first quarter Sunday and finished with team-high 26 in a 121-114 win over the Detroit Pistons.

With Curry, assuming he’s not injured, it’s a fine line. With the other veterans, the decisions are much more defined. Cousins is coming off a major injury, Iguodala and Livingston are mid-30s veterans requiring rest at regular intervals.

“Each player, we look at individually,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “With DeMarcus, we made the decision based on Rick’s assessment that he should just not play back-to-backs this season. So, he’s not going to.

“Andre and Shaun both, periodically we’ve been giving rest to for the last several years based on the age and wear and tear.

“And then, every once in a while, it will come up that Rick will recommend we give somebody a rest. Last night it was Steph.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Warriors' win over Pistons]

Sitting Curry was precautionary, according to Kerr. His work schedule and his numerous off-the-court endeavors leave him open to overload.

“He’s been going a couple months straight and has looked a little tired the last couple weeks,” Kerr said. “It made perfect sense. We will be better for it in the long run.”

It definitely looked that way on Sunday.