Warriors

Rick Barry pinpoints biggest key to Warriors' success without Durant

Rick Barry pinpoints biggest key to Warriors' success without Durant

Life without Kevin Durant begins now.

The Warriors won't have the services of their All-Star forward for at least four weeks, and likely longer.

So if the Warriors are keep their grip on the No. 1 seed in the West, it's paramount that the bench players step up in his absence.

That's biggest concern for Hall of Famer and former Warrior Rick Barry.

"Well, I think you still have to say they are a team that has to be contended with, for sure. Because again, they won a championship with those three guys, other than Kevin [Durant]. And it's a matter of how well the bench is going to perform, how [Andre] Iguodala's going to play, how Shaun [Livingston's] going to do, how [JaVale] McGee will fit into it. They have a lot of talent on that basketball team, so it's all going to be predicated on how well the rest of the team plays. And it's always been the biggest contention for me this season: how well is the bench going to play?" Barry said on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Wednesday.

With 22 games left on the schedule, Barry believes the Warriors' focus should be on the play of the bench.

"I think their entire focus the rest of the season needs to be for the bench to be totally focused about coming in, playing tough defense, trying to maintain leads when they come into games, trying to help if the team is struggling to maybe get them back in the game just like the bench did two seasons ago when they won. I think that was one of the primary weapons of the Warriors was how effective their bench was and that was always the big question mark for me,

"I wasn't worried about whether or not they were going to be a good offensive team with Kevin Durant joining them. I knew they'd be virtually unguardable with him and they would embarrass some teams, which they've done. That's going to be the key: what happens with the bench and how those reserve guys do because they still have the three guys that were the main cogs in winning the championship two seasons ago," Barry said.

Durant, who was officially diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise in his left leg, will be re-evaluated in four weeks. The Warriors haven't ruled out a return during the regular season, which concludes on April 12.

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

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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.