Warriors

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant right to stay on message ahead of NBA Finals

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant right to stay on message ahead of NBA Finals

OAKLAND – Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, speaking minutes apart on Friday, were in perfect harmony. They’ve been teammates long enough to know this may disappoint a segment of sports fans.

You’ve heard them. How can you not? These people say things like the Warriors are a better without Durant. Or the team’s famously fabulous chemistry is being compromised, by Durant.

“I feel like for the last three years, everybody has taken their shots at trying to nitpick or break us down or drive a wedge in our team chemistry or our togetherness or whatever the case is,” Curry said after practice. “And even this year, it’s been amplified even more with (Durant’s) free-agency stuff. Nobody can say anything without it getting scrutinized or criticized. Nobody can be happy when people are playing well. That’s the part, to me, that’s most surprising. If it’s KD playing well, it’s ‘Oh, they’re playing a different style and it’s not as fun to watch.’ Or when he’s out and we’re winning games, ‘Are we better or more fun,’ whatever the question is, you hear it all the time.”

Never mind that the Warriors are in the midst of the most successful NBA run since Bill Russell, now 85, was patrolling the middle for the 1960s Boston Celtics. Or that when the NBA Finals begin next week the Warriors are favored to capture a third consecutive championship.

Yet Durant, particularly since he dropped out of the lineup May 8 with a calf injury, remains a popular target, with some folks claiming he is a man apart – and not always because of his singular talent.

“It’s been that way since I got here, that it’s the Warriors and KD,” Durant said. “I understand that. And I feel like my teammates and the organization know exactly what I’ve done – on and off the court – to become a part of this culture.

“I know what I bring to the team,’ he added. “But I also know a lot of people from the outside don’t like to see us together. I get it.”

Every argument, every off-script moment and every sideways glance can lead to social media buzz, as well as that of TV and radio talk shows. The Warriors constantly are having their temperature taken by folks trying to diagnose from a distance.

Durant often gets the blunt end of the discourse, at least partly because he, for better or worse, engages more than most.

“It’s hard to get away from that because I watch the games and watch the lead-up to the games and that’s all everybody is talking about,” he said of the negative outside noise. “From my perspective, I want to focus on rehab, but I also want to be a fan of my teammates. I want to enjoy my teammates from a different view.”

Durant is not expected to play early in the NBA Finals, which begin next Thursday, but he is holding out hope he can get back on the court at some point during the series.

Much of the recent chatter is related to the Warriors being 5-0 since Durant went down, winning Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in Houston before sweeping the Trail Blazers in the conference finals. This has spawned the usual instant “analysis” that some try to pass off as informed opinion.

“We are one group, until we’re not,” Curry said. “I don’t think we’re going to let any noise around us – as frustrating or entertaining or whatever you want to call it is on a daily basis – break us down in terms of distracting us from what the goal is.

When Durant was asked a question Friday – ‘’How have you thought about their (the Warriors) play?” – it was notable that he quickly corrected the reporter.

“Our play? I think we’ve been playing great.”

Even with continuing subplot of Durant’s looming free agency, both players stressed that the “common goal” overrides all other factors. Durant was having perhaps the best postseason of anyone before he was injured. Curry has since grabbed that torch.

[RELATED: How KD's early NBA Finals absence affects Warriors' matchups]

The Warriors went as far as possible in the first two seasons with Durant. The story of this season, despite predictions of collapse at several points, is in progress.

“We’re a great team because everybody who puts on the uniform goes out and competes at a high level,” Curry added. “We look out for each other. There’s a little bit of sacrifice. But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning. And no matter who is on the floor, that’s what we’re all about.”

While it’s true all is not blissful with this team, that doesn’t automatically mean it is a catastrophe waiting to happen

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The juggernaut Warriors of the last five years are no longer, but some key star holdovers have a chance to reach some NBA records this season.

With the departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and the injury to Klay Thompson, the playmaking and scoring for the Warriors will mostly fall on the shoulders of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and newly acquired D'Angelo Russell. So as the construction of the team changed dramatically, the Warriors now potentially face a struggle to play the same suffocating defense most have come accustomed to.

Instead, they will rely on a high-powered offense and individual key defensive players to lead the charge. Here are some records that they could break this season.

Most 3-pointers in a regular season: Steph Curry 402 (2015-16)

The biggest key to Curry toppling his own historic 3-point season will be staying healthy and in the lineup. Curry has not played over 70 games in a season since 2016-17, and played 79 games when he shattered the season record.

Since the Warriors might have to outscore teams in shootouts with their defense less reliable, Curry will be able to fire away with abandon. Curry hit 354 3-pointers in just 69 games last season. If he played 10 extra games and maintained his average 3-point rate, he would have broken his record.

So what else could help Curry break 402? Well, just keep reading ...

3-point attempts per game: James Harden 13.2 (2018-19)

When Curry made 402 3-pointers, he averaged 11.2 attempts per game. Last season, he averaged a career-high 11.7 3-point attempts per game. Shooting two more 3s per game is within reason, and definitely a welcome proposition for all Warriors fans. 

Most consecutive games with 5+ 3-pointers made: James Harden 12 (2018-19)

The more Steph shoots, the more he makes. Harden might be watching a few of his milestones surpassed this season.

Most 3-pointers attempted in a game: Klay Thompson 24 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Most 3-pointers made in a game: Klay Thompson 14 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Curry already jokingly (probably) proclaimed that he would shoot 22 3-pointers on opening night against the Clippers. So would you be surprised if he had a few games this season in which he launched endlessly from long range? Unfortunately for Klay, he will have to sit idly on the bench for most of the season while Curry goes after his record.

[RELATED: Steph Curry primed for another MVP season]

Most steals in a game: Larry Kenon 11 (Dec. 26, 1976), Kendall Gill 11 (April 3, 1999)

The defensive category belongs to Draymond Green, and after signing a $100 million extension and getting into the best shape of his life, he is primed for a breakout season. If last playoffs are any indicator of how he will play next season, then there are several defensive records and milestones that can be within his sights.

On Feb. 10, 2017, Green recorded a triple-double in Memphis. But it was not just any triple-double, it included 10 steals, one away from the single-game record. There will be many games next season that he will carry the team defensively, so perhaps he approaches the record again.

200 steals plus 100 blocks in one season: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen

In 2016-17, Green set a career-high 154 steals and blocked 106 shots -- down from his previous career-high of 113 the year prior. Remaining healthy and in the lineup for most of the season will be imperative for Green to even have a chance at approaching a 200-100 season.

It still is a long shot for Draymond to reach those totals, but when he is in shape, motivated and playing with fire, there's always a chance. 

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Slowly but surely, Kevin Durant is moving on from the Warriors. 

After electing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. Durant expressed his feelings on his time in the Bay, including the elation of winning the NBA Finals and the belief that he never would be accepted in the same way Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

The next step in Durant's quest to move on from the Warriors came Thursday when he donned the black and white of Brooklyn for the first time in a promotional shoot.

Seeing KD rocking a No. 7 Nets jersey is ... a little weird.

Those jerseys are clean, though,

Durant won't see the floor this season as he continues to rehab from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Once Durant is back to 100 percent, he'll join Kyrie Irving and a band of young Nets trying to take over the Eastern Conference.

[RELATED: Steph fires back at KD after criticism of Warriors offense]

As for the Warriors, they remade their roster after Durant's exit and will be looking to go back to their roots with a ball-movement centric attack that lets Curry, new addition D'Angelo Russell and Thompson -- when he returns from his torn ACL -- torment opposing defenses.