Warriors

Warriors' plan might invite skepticism after two inexplicable losses

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USATSI

Warriors' plan might invite skepticism after two inexplicable losses

From the spate of injuries to essential stars to hard-cap restrictions to sending a delegation of VIPs to Michigan to celebrate Draymond Green’s college career, illustrating their warm and inclusive support system, it’s a brilliant blueprint guiding the Warriors this season.

The stopgap roster explains the losing, while simultaneously providing a valid response to allegations, whispered or shouted, of tanking.

The hard cap prevents making a bold move for immediate help, so the roster is, pretty much, all it’s going to be.

The trip to Michigan State this week for the retirement of Draymond’s college number is the sort of first-class gesture that makes its way around the NBA. It’s a low-key pitch for future recruiting efforts.

See, we’re doing the best we can! We’re unlucky.

The plan to Make the Warriors Great Again was moving along without a hitch until the past few days, when they comprehensively stunk up joints in Atlanta and Charlotte.

Losing to the Heat last Friday in Miami was expected. The Heat, always combative, have added legitimately gifted players.

What has happened since, however, raises a few eyebrows.

The Orlando-Atlanta-Charlotte-Chicago portion of the road trip might be the softest road stretch in the NBA and surely is the most appetizing the Warriors will see. It’s one limo after another, four in all, taking them to the doorstep of victory. This was the trip during which they would get healthy, win two or three games, and return home still on track to get fat in the 2020 NBA Draft.

For if the Warriors were to come back to the Bay at 6-18 or 7-17, the upcoming schedule would have them still in line for the bottom-three status (based regular-season records) that is the closest thing to a guarantee of getting a top-three pick. The first-, second- and third-worst records have the same odds of getting the overall No. 1 pick.

Once the Warriors get past the Grizzlies and Knicks, they’ll see a spike in the quality of opponents. The next 10 games include the Jazz, the Trail Blazers, the Rockets, the Suns and the Mavericks – all teams on a rail to the postseason or at least at the front of the ticket line.

It only gets harder next month, the Warriors see the Bucks, Clippers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Blazers, Jazz, Pacers, Sixers and Celtics.

The Warriors are assured of seeing teams that will crush them, keeping them on a course to 18 wins, give or take a couple. The kind of defeats that will be both expected and understood.

Losing by four to the Magic while allowing Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz – you read that right – to combine for 16 fourth-quarter points on 77.7-percent shooting invites skepticism. Losing by 25 to the Hawks is far worse. The last time Atlanta beat an opponent so thoroughly, Mike Budenholzer was the coach and Trae Young was in college.

Then Wednesday night, in Charlotte, the Warriors lost by 17 to the Hornets – Charlotte’s first double-digit win this season – because 6-foot-1 guards Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier combined for 15 3-pointers, many with the closest defender roughly an acre away.

Glenn Robinson III, speaking of Graham’s 10 triples, said the Warriors “just lost him a couple times.” Losing the dude who entered the game trailing only serial launcher James Harden in 3-point makes this season is not unlike losing the game plan. And we believe there was one.

Asked a few weeks ago about the prospect of tanking this season, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob replied as if insulted, telling ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that “It is against every single thing I and we stand for.”

That’s the scripted response and it is credible. There is no questioning Lacob’s will to win, his desire to dominate, his thirst for champagne in the locker room in June.

[RELATED: 'Authentic' political voice reaches Dubs players, Kerr says]

This road trip, however, is offering a rebuttal. The final four legs were there to pick up a few wins. But instead, three skeptical losses have ensued. A fourth, against the Bulls on Friday in Chicago, would have been clever a few years ago, when owning the worst record boosted the odds of being first in line on draft night.

But by the rules of 2019-20, it’s not at all necessary to accept a succession of losses that qualify as curious. Their blueprint, as is, will take them where they want to go.

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

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AP

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

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors have had a hard time winning lately. With the Indiana Pacers in town, that quest doesn't get any easier.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30 p.m., with tipoff from Chase Center scheduled for 7:40 p.m.

Friday's game comes hours after the Warriors reportedly traded away Willie Cauley-Stein to the Dallas Mavericks for 2020 second-round draft pick. Without Cauley-Stein, Golden State's roster currently has no player over seven feet tall to combat Indiana's frontline. 

Meanwhile, the Pacers have won six of their last seven games as coach Nate McMillan continues an impressive tenure in the Midwest. 

[RELATED: How to watch tonight's Warriors-Pacers game on MyTeams, TV]

The Warriors enter Friday's matchup having won two straight against Indiana dating back to last season. However, the current iteration of the roster has lost 12 of its last 13 games. 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

G - Glenn Robinson III
F - Draymond Green
C - Omari Spellman
G - Damion Lee
G - D'Angelo Russell

Pacers

F - TJ Warren
F - Domantas Sabonis
C - Myles Turner
G - Jeremy Lamb
G - Aaron Holiday

INJURY REPORT 

Warriors: Stephen Curry (left-hand fracture), Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness), Klay Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation), Ky Bowman (G League assignment), Jacob Evans (G League assignment), Alen Smailagic (G League assignment) and Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness) are out.

Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (concussion) and Victor Oladipo (right knee rehabilitation) are out. Goga Bitadze (illness) is questionable. 

ROTATION

Warriors: With Cauley-Stein reportedly traded, more minutes will be available for Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman. Spellman has played well of late, averaging 11.1 points per game in his last 11 outings. 

[RELATED: How Dubs benefit from reported Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs]

D'Angelo Russell is averaging 26.0 points over his last 12 appearances. Meanwhile, Alec Burks has scored in double figures in 20 of his last 25 outings. Still, the Warriors have lost six of their last seven games at home, including a 129-96 los to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. 
 
Pacers: McMillan has done a fantastic job this season, guiding the Pacers to 29-16 record without guard Victor Oladipo. 

With Oladipo out, forwards TJ Warren and Domantas Sabonis have enjoyed career-years, leading the Pacers to the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference. Center Myles Turner ranks sixth in the league in blocked shots (2.0 per game) a year after leading the NBA in that category. 

Officials: John Goble (#30), Bill Kennedy (#55), Ray Acosta (#54)

Warriors vs. Pacers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

Warriors vs. Pacers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

Losers of 12 of their last 13 games, the Warriors host a streaking Indiana Pacers team at Chase Center on Friday night before departing on a five-game East Coast road trip.

Friday's game will feature two teams headed in opposite directions. While Golden State might have hit a new low in a 129-96 blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, the Pacers have been playing some of their best ball of the season, having won seven of their last nine games with the only losses coming in Miami and Utah to the current second-place teams in each conference.

At 29-16, Indiana currently sits fifth in the East, thanks in large part to the all-around contributions of big man Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 17.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest on 53.6 percent shooting from the field. The Warriors were going to have their hands full with him, and that was before the reported trade of Willie Cauley-Stein to the Dallas Mavericks earlier in the day.

[RELATED: How Dubs benefit from reported Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs]

Here's how to watch Friday night's game between the Warriors and Pacers:

When: Friday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT, pregame begins at 6:30 p.m.
TV channel: NBC Sports Bay Area
Live stream: MyTeams App

Live stream all your Warriors games and get the latest news and analysis on the MyTeams App.