Warriors looking to balance rest and staying sharp entering The Finals


Warriors looking to balance rest and staying sharp entering The Finals

OAKLAND -- Four days ago, after eliminating the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference, the battered Golden State Warriors earned the right to rest. 

The achievement comes with a caveat for a team with seven full days until the NBA Finals: How to balance getting the necessary rest while staying sharp. 

"We all kind of have an understanding of how our body responds and what we need to do and how to also get off your feet," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said following practice Friday afternoon. "Knowing that the rest should work to our advantage once The Finals start." 

The extended break came at an opportune time for the champs, who now have time to dedicate a full training staff to help heal injuries for DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala. As the Warriors wait for a winner to emerge from the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, they have taken a cautionary approach towards preparation. 

After taking two days off, Golden State resumed practice Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the Warriors went through a full scrimmage, which included Cousins, who is rehabbing from a torn right quad. Following Saturday's practice, the team will take Sunday off and resume workouts Monday morning with more scrimmages on the horizon. 

"Throughout the scrimmage, you don't have to go 100 percent playoff intensity," Curry said. But you can still focus on the things that help you on win games defensively like rotations and switches. And then offensively, certain play calls we know we're going to run, even though, in our scrimmages, everyone knows what the plays are."

Golden State has been in this position before. Two years ago, after sweeping the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Finals, Golden State had nine days to prepare for the NBA Finals matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who they beat in five games. Over the last five years, Golden State has had at least a week break three times. 

"We kind of understand how mentally you want to refresh," Curry said. "I know the playoffs are demanding. So if you have time to reset a little bit, take advantage of it." 

History suggests that rest doesn't necessarily mean success in the NBA Finals.  Teams with at least a one-week rest before Game 1 of the NBA Finals are 14-11 in the series all-time.

"There's no easy answer to it all but you have to scrimmage," Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. you have to play and that's scary because guys could get hurt."

More than 30 years ago, after dispatching Kerr's Suns in the 1989 Western Conference Finals, Lakers coach Pat Riley, decided to hold a three-day minicamp in a remote area near Santa Babara, Calif to keep his team in peak condition. During the two-a-day sessions, Lakers guard Byron Scott pulled his hamstring. Days after the camp, star guard Magic Johnson pulled his hamstring in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons, missing the rest of the series as Detroit swept the series. 

"Pat Riley is one of the great coaches of all time. How do you handle it? I don't know," Kerr said. "You got to strike a balance, you got to try and keep their conditioning and keep their lungs, but you can't risk injury." 

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With seven days until their next professional game, the Warriors will continue to toe the line between resting and keeping their game up to par for their biggest series of the season. 

"You just got to have fun and compete with it, obviously," Curry said. "You want to stay safe and really it's just to make sure the lungs still work for the Finals."


What Warriors' Ron Adams believes is Alen Smailagic's best current skill

What Warriors' Ron Adams believes is Alen Smailagic's best current skill

During Alen Smailagic's rookie season with the Warriors, he showed flashes as to why Golden State traded two future second-round draft picks (2021 and 2023) to acquire him.

The No. 39 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game over 14 appearances.

"His best skill right now -- for a young guy, he's not afraid of the game," Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic last week. "He comes into the game and he's turned on. He makes some good plays.

"That was noticeable this year. His confidence, his savvy, whatever you want to call it. It was pretty impressive."

The 19-year-old has the utmost belief in himself, and doesn't shy away from the bright lights.

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Smailagic believes he already belongs and can have a big impact on the game.

This is an important mindset to possess as it can help when things aren't going your way. And the reality is that Smailagic is far from a finished product.

"He has a ways to go," Adams said. "I think he made great strides this year. He would get in the game and the only thing he thought about was how (he was) going to get the ball into the hoop (laughter). He was just really intent on that. 

"He began to understand the game in a different way. He began to understand the game the way Steve (Kerr) likes the game to be played. I thought he improved defensively."

[RELATED: Draymond has eager student in Warriors rookie Smailagic]

It's possible that the 6-foot-10 Serbian is a consistent rotation player next season. The Warriors would be ecstatic if that comes to fruition.

But he might not have a significant role, and he could end up spending a decent amount of time in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

That is all to-be-determined.

"He's a young developing player," Adams said. "And when that's the case, you can never be surprised when things happen more quickly than you think they should in terms of development, and you can't be disappointed when they don't."

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How latest reported NBA schedule timeline could affect Warriors, draft

How latest reported NBA schedule timeline could affect Warriors, draft

The Warriors know they practically are guaranteed to land a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Yet they still don't know when the draft -- originally scheduled for June 25 -- actually will take place.

But the latest intel from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is helping us narrow down the date.

The draft typically falls on the first Thursday after the scheduled date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals. So if we assume the league maintains that format, the Warriors could be making their selections on Oct. 15.

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To reiterate, we are making an assumption here and it's possible the NBA doesn't follow its normal protocol during these very uncertain times. 

But as Woj writes:

The expectation is that the NBA draft and the opening of free agency would follow in sequential order in October, sources said.

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If we apply the same logic for the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery -- which was slated for May 19 -- you can expect it to be held in mid-September.

We might know all of the specifics as early as Thursday because that's when the NBA's Board of Governors is expected to vote on the NBA's return-to-play proposal.

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