Warriors

Steph Curry knows Warriors must pick up the pace before All-Star break

Steph Curry knows Warriors must pick up the pace before All-Star break

OAKLAND – Long past their most impressive stretch of the season, winning 11 in a row by an average of 17.5 points, the Warriors are coming off a weekend wandering through the festivities, winning two games almost by default.

What’s up with the defending champs, now in their fourth week with five All-Stars in the starting lineup? Shouldn’t they be spending their nights smashing opponents to remind folks of who they are – and what they’re about to become?

Who better than Draymond Green to ask? So I did.

“Do you want my honest opinion? My honest opinion is it’s the dog days right now,” he said. “You usually hit that in January. We haven’t really hit that, because we got DeMarcus (Cousins) back, so it kind of gave us an extra boost. We’re there right now. But we found a way to win (the last two games) and that’s what’s important.”

That’s Draymond, peeling away the platitudes and sprinkling some truth into the discussion. Natural incentive was lacking and the Warriors at this point of the season feel no need to lock in from tip to horn.

That was risky against the last two opponents, Phoenix and Miami. It would be silly against the next two.

The Warriors close out the pre-All-Star break schedule at home against the Jazz on Tuesday night and in Portland against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Both teams have beaten the Warriors this season.

Moreover, both are possible opponents when the playoffs begin in two months.

There’s the incentive. The Warriors often talk about playing the right way, building the right habits and achieving a standard that applies only to them. The goal is to enter the postseason ready to destroy.

Consider Utah, which has beaten the Warriors four times in the last six meetings, a test of focus against a team that can be difficult to play.

Consider Portland, which has won nine of its last 10 games at Moda Center, a trial run for the postseason and an opportunity to soar into the break.

What the Warriors put out against the last Phoenix and Miami will not suffice. The early-game loitering, the failure of fundamentals – watching both collect offensive rebounds simply by chasing – is a recipe for 0-2 entering All-Star Weekend.

Such shortcomings, which occasionally surface with the Warriors, are highly visible.

“We will fix it,” Stephen Curry said.

“That’s the second game in a row the team has gotten up 20 more shots than us,” Kevin Durant said after the win over the Heat. “Whether it’s turnovers or offensive rebounds, we are going to lose in the playoffs like that.”

Durant’s assessment is totally on point. Bad habits lead to postseason disappointment, and anything less than a championship qualifies as a failure for the Warriors. They’re built to win it all and it is anticipated they well.

Meanwhile, they’re expected to rise to anything resembling a real challenge.

“We are in a good groove; I don’t know what we’ve won – 15 out of 16? Doing really well and we can get better,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We will be challenged by Utah and Portland. Hopefully, we will get Andre Iguodala back (left hamstring tightness) and see how he’s doing and we’ll be ready to go.”

[RELATED: Durant explains why he lashed out at the media]

Iguodala or not, the Warriors need nothing less than to lose back-to-back games for the second time this season. They flirted with it against Phoenix, a team with both eyes of the draft lottery, and Miami, a team with more toughness than talent – before going from jog to sprint and track them down.

It has become apparent that the Warriors, in Year 5 of their near-dictatorship, tend to respond best when they can feel the stakes. The stakes over the next couple days are not playoff-caliber for them, but they are that for the Jazz and the Blazers.

Just knowing that should make a difference for the Warriors.

Tom Izzo yelling at Aaron Henry elicits response from Draymond Green

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AP

Tom Izzo yelling at Aaron Henry elicits response from Draymond Green

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Saturday afternoon at 4 P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

During the second half of Michigan State's opening-round NCAA Tournament win over Bradley, Tom Izzo went nuts.

The Spartans' head coach called timeout and went off on freshman forward Aaron Henry.

On Friday morning, Draymond Green took to Twitter to share his feelings about the incident.

If anybody can provide some insight and perspective here, it's certainly the 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Draymond and Izzo are extremely close and still talk frequently.

If you disagree with Izzo's approach and are hoping for an apology... that ain't happening.

"What's wrong with challenging a kid that makes some mistakes?" Izzo said after the game. "Aaron Henry -- trust me -- did some things that you can't do as a starter on a Top-5 team at the end of your freshman year. They were effort related.

"I did get after him. He did respond. He did make a couple of big buckets. He did make some big free throws but that's not good enough. It's one-and-done time. The 'my-bads' are out the window.''

Will there eventually be another layer to this story? That's quite possible.

Michigan State will be back in action on Saturday night when they face Minnesota.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Zaza Pachulia shares text Steph Curry sent him during radio interview

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AP

Zaza Pachulia shares text Steph Curry sent him during radio interview

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Saturday afternoon at 4 P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On Sunday evening, the Warriors host the Pistons at Oracle.

You know what that means, right?

Zaza Pachulia is back!

On Friday morning, the big man who won two titles with the Warriors was a guest on 95.7 The Game.

He talked about the excitement surrounding receiving his 2018 championship ring, what he learned during his two seasons with Golden State, the narrative that he's a dirty player and much more.

And just before the conversation came to an end, Zaza closed with this:

"Can't wait to see everybody and I just want to give a shoutout to Steph Curry and Jarron Collins who just texted me to tell me that my voice sounds beautiful ... can't wait to see them."

I wonder if that's the first time anybody has ever told Zaza that his voice sounds beautiful. Maybe his wife has said it once or twice before.

[REWINDZaza Pachulia trolls Kevin Durant about Omri Casspi's 20 points]

The 35-year old is averaging 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game this season.

He scored a season-high 11 points in Detroit's huge win over the Raptors last Sunday.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram