Warriors

Saquon Barkley praises Kevin Durant, picks Raptors over Warriors in NBA Finals

Saquon Barkley praises Kevin Durant, picks Raptors over Warriors in NBA Finals

In the NFL offseason, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is moonlighting as an NBA analyst. 

At his youth football camp in New Jersey on Sunday, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft told reporters he doesn't like the Warriors' chances against the Toronto Raptors if Kevin Durant continues to miss time with a strained right calf. 

"If KD comes back -- I mean, KD's the best player in the world," Barkley told Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson. " ... [Kawhi Leonard's] going crazy right now, so I have the Raptors. I said it on my (Instagram) story today. The Raptors are winning The Finals if KD doesn't come back."

Barkley left Penn State just 89 yards shy of the school's all-time rushing record, but he was also played basketball in high school. Despite standing just 5-foot-11, Barkley essentially played power forward for Whitehall High School in Pennsylvania, although his coach told Cleveland.com that Barkley "wasn't the star, he was the glue guy."

[RELATED: These numbers show how much Warriors need KD in Finals]

The Warriors lost their first game this postseason in Durant's absence in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Golden State won five straight without him beforehand, but lacked another scorer alongside Steph Curry in the 118-109 loss. Durant won't play in Game 2, but could be cleared to return once he is able to practice. 

In the meantime, the Warriors will try to prove another famous athlete named Barkley wrong. 

Warriors vs. Lakers watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

kerrusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Warriors vs. Lakers watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

LOS ANGELES -- When they take the court Wednesday night to face the Lakers, the Warriors will be starting at the possibility of an unwanted first under coach Steve Kerr.

They’ve had losing streaks of two, three and four games -- but never of five.

That’s what they’ll own if they can’t find a way to upset the Lakers. Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff from Staples Center scheduled for 7:10.

While the Warriors (2-9) have lost their last four games by an average of 10.8 points, though two of them were close, Los Angeles (8-2) has lost only once since opening night.

If there is anything at all for the Warriors to exploit, it’s the absence of Anthony Davis, who reportedly will sit due to a variety of minor ailments.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F  Glenn Robinson III
F  Draymond Green
C  Willie Cauley-Stein
G  Jordan Poole
G  D’Angelo Russell

Lakers

F  LeBron James
F  Kyle Kuzma
C  JaVale McGee
G  Danny Green
G  Avery Bradley

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (left hand fracture), G Jacob Evans III (left adductor strain), G Damion Lee (right hand non-displaced fracture), F Kevon Looney (neuropathy), F Alen Smailagic and G Klay Thompson (right ACL rehab) are listed as out.

Lakers: F Anthony Davis (right shoulder, rib soreness) is listed as doubtful but expected to sit out. C DeMarcus Cousins (right knee rehab) and G Rajon Rondo (right calf strain) are listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: The biggest challenge they face is containing LeBron. Expect no fewer than four different players (Eric Paschall, Alec Burks, Green and Robinson) coming at James, who is doing a fine job directing the LA offense . . . Russell has been fabulous on offense, averaging 38.3 ppg since returning from a three-game stay on the injury list. He might be particularly motivated against the team that drafted him . . . The Warriors are becoming accustomed to playing with a small roster, but the return of C Omari Spellman after a one-game absence gives them three big men, with Marquese Chriss and Cauley-Stein. All three will be needed against the length of McGee and backup Dwight Howard.

Lakers: After missing the first four games with an injury, Kuzma has played in the last six games, coming off the bench averaging 12.3 ppg. If Davis sits, as expected, he likely will get the start ... Though still listed at SF, James is excelling at PG. Always a terrific passer, he is leading the NBA in assists (11.0). His averaging 12.0 apg and 2.8 turnovers over the last six games ... With LeBron leading the way, the Lakers recorded 39 assists, their highest total since April 2009, in a win at Phoenix on Tuesday ... Ex-Warriors G Quinn Cook has played in all 10 games, averaging 15.5 minutes and 5.6 ppg off the bench ... The Lakers are 5-19 against the Warriors over the past six seasons. In the six seasons before that, they were 20-4. The tide may be turning.

Officials: Ed Malloy (crew chief), Karl Lane and Matt Boland. 

Steve Kerr explains why Warriors-Lakers rivalry doesn't really exist

howarddlowarriors.jpg
USATSI

Steve Kerr explains why Warriors-Lakers rivalry doesn't really exist

LOS ANGELES -- Standing in the lobby of UCLA's Mo Ostin Center, Warriors coach Steve Kerr found himself in a unique scenario in his latest trip to Southern California. 

During his coaching tenure, he's won 80 percent of his games against the team he grew up rooting for, including 10 of the last 12 matchups. Now, in a trend Kerr knows all too well, his team seems to be declining as the Lakers are ascending, prompting a familiar question from the coach Wednesday afternoon.

"Have the Warriors and Lakers ever been up at the same time in the history of our league?"

The current iteration of each team's roster indicates the answer is a resounding "no." Four months ago, Los Angeles acquired all-star big man Anthony Davis, pairing him with LeBron James to form one of the league's best duos. Additionally, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka surrounded the core with two-way veterans like Avery Bradley and Danny Green. 

Meanwhile, Golden State's season remains in peril. No longer the prohibitive favorites to win the title, the Warriors have fallen from contention altogether. In five months, they have lost vital pieces, including Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and superstar guard Steph Curry to injury. By Wednesday evening, Golden State could conceivably suit up just nine players at Staples Center. 

The current circumstances mirror the history between both teams. In four postseason matchups, the Lakers have never lost. When the Warriors won their first title on the West Coast in 1975, the Lakers failed to make the postseason. Twelve years later, when the teams played in the first round of the 1987 postseason, the top-seeded Lakers took care of the fifth-ranked Warriors in five games. Four years later, the eighth-seeded Warriors lost again in the first round in four games. 

Fast forward to 2015-2019, where the Warriors won three titles in five years while the Lakers were rebuilding, failing to reach the playoffs over that stretch. The course seemed to change 16 months ago, when superstar forward LeBron James signed with the team in free agency. Los Angeles responded by a 20-14 start, including a 127-101 Christmas Day drubbing of the Warriors at Oracle Arena. 

Then a groin injury -- suffered in the matchup against the Warriors -- sidelined James for much of the season. Adding to the peril, front office turmoil led to the resignation of Vice President Magic Johnson before the season finale and the eventual ousting of coach Luke Walton. 
 
"It looked to me like they were going to be pretty good," Kerr said. "And then they had their own challenges with injuries and other stuff."

Now, Lakers are on top. Following a victory Tuesday night in Phoenix, they're at the top of the Western Conference. Davis -- who isn't expected to play Wednesday night against Golden State -- is averaging 26.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, while James continues to be one of the league's best players, solidifying one of the best cores in the league. 

"It's not surprising," Kerr admitted. "LeBron is one of the best passers in the history of the game. He's got Anthony to work with as a pick-and-pop guy, as a lob threat. You talk about two of the most talented players in the game and they both have great feels so it's not at all surprising."

[RELATED: Warriors must fix ugly defense to avoid hitting rock bottom]

Hope may be on the way for Golden State to balance the matchup going forward. Curry, Green and Thompson are all expected to be healthy by the start of next season, bringing back the core formidable enough to go against Los Angeles. 

"They've been good for a long time," Kerr said. "And they're good again and we're trying to get there."