Warriors

NBA Gameday: Warriors aim to bottle up Hayward again in Game 2

NBA Gameday: Warriors aim to bottle up Hayward again in Game 2

OAKLAND -- Coming off a relatively breezy Game 1 win, the Warriors on Thursday night will try to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with Utah.

Though Stephen Curry tweaked his left ankle in Game 1, he is not listed on the team’s injury report and showed no ill effects during morning shootaround or in his individual session afterward.

The Jazz, on the other hand, will be without starting point guard George Hill. Coach Quin Snyder would not commit to a replacement starter, with his options being Shelvin Mack, Dante Exum and Raul Neto.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 13.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kevin Durant/Klay Thompson vs. Gordon Hayward: The Warriors did a fabulous job on Hayward in Game 1, holding him to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field. Though Thompson was the primary defender, Hayward saw plenty of Andre Iguodala and Durant, as well as some Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston. The Warriors will continue to rotate defenders. They’ll also continue to make Hayward work on defense.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevon Looney (L hip strain) is listed as out.

Jazz: G George Hill (L big toe soreness) is listed as out.

ROAD TO THE SERIES

The Warriors finished the regular season with the league’s best record (67-15) and swept Portland in the first round.

The Jazz (51-31) finished with the No. 5 seed and in the first round eliminated the Clippers in seven games.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors posted a 106-04 win in Game 1. The teams met three times in the regular season, with the Warriors winning the first two games: 106-99 on Dec. 8 in Utah and 104-74 on Dec. 20 at Oracle Arena. The Jazz posted a 105-99 victory on April 10 at Oracle. The Warriors have won 14 of the last 16 meetings overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE PACE GAME: The Warriors in Game 1 did a fine job of using snug, frenzied defense to goad Utah into speeding up its usually deliberate defense. That plan won’t change, regardless of who is at point guard for the Jazz. Only three teams committed fewer turnovers than the Jazz in the regular season, yet the Warriors took command by forcing 10 giveaways in the first half.

THE BENCHES: That Warriors reserves were outscored 40-25 in Game 1 is deceptive, for they’re generally joined by at least two starters. David West, Ian Clark and Iguodala were effective, while the Jazz got little from anyone besides Rodney Hood. Utah has to hope Iguodala (0-of-6 from deep) doesn’t find his outside stroke.

THE 3-BALL BATTLE: While both teams took 29 shots from beyond the arc in Game 1, the Jazz made nine to the Warriors’ seven. The Warriors ranked third in 3-point shooting percentage, the Jazz ninth. The likelihood is that the numbers will swing in favor of the Warriors.

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.