Warriors

Warriors send strong statement, show where they stand in rivalry with Cavs

Warriors send strong statement, show where they stand in rivalry with Cavs

As a statement in rebuttal to Christmas Day, the Golden State Warriors told the Cleveland Cavaliers, “See you back here on June 1.”
 
And they stated it with authority, for all the good it will matter come June.

Monday’s 126-91 dope-slapping of the Cavs, replete though it might have been with DrayBron Round 3, serves only as a talking point for Joe Lacob at Tuesday’s new arena groundbreaking ceremony and as a game for everyone to forget when these two teams next meet, mostly likely in the NBA Finals for a nearly unprecedented third consecutive time. 
 
The last time it has happened in any professional sport, since you didn't ask, was 1952-54 with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. Richard Jefferson was born shortly thereafter.
 
Long-term, though, Monday’s curb-stomping has little carryover value. The Warriors have stomped the Cavs and been stomped by them since this series became must-see entertainment two years ago – yes, even against the cultural degradation of The Bachelor. They all serve as prelude to the next game, no matter how long the wait.

But the search for statements never ends, and if there was one, it was that when fully engaged on defense and in transition, the Warriors are downright evil.
 
Or, to steal the phrase off Steve Kerr’s chest, “SPIRITUAL GANGSTERS,” which we presume is T-shirt for “Find the path of eternal peace and contentment or I’ll put a cap in your hinder.”
 
The most demonstrative Warrior of all was Draymond Green, whose triple double (11/13/11) was more than enhanced by his plus-43 (tying a career high) and highlighted by his professional foul on a breaking James midway through the second quarter. Green cut off his path to the basket shoulder first, dropping James like wet laundry and causing great anger and consternation among the customers. Green was called for a flagrant foul (category 1: no evacuation needed) and a technical foul, but exempting the view of James laying face-down on the floor that created exaggerated cries of felony flopping, the decision was just.
 
“I fouled him to stop the break,” Green said impishly, “and he went down. The aftermath – I told RJ to get out of my face. It was just in the heat of the moment, I think . . . having some fun, nothing dangerous.”
 
“It was definitely a hard foul,” Klay Thompson affirmed. “I think anyone would have gone down if Draymond’s running at you that fast fouling you like that. It was a good hard foul. He probably warranted a Flagrant 1.”
 
Well, if you’re into message-sending and all that, sure, but the messaging had been delivered by then. The Cavs may have been coming off three days’ rest on the West Coast and at the end of a road trip, but that doesn’t explain a 35-point beatdown. Each of of the Warriors starters – Green, Thompson, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Zaza Pachulia – plainly outplayed their Cleveland counterparts – James, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love – and the Warrior bench was far better than Cleveland’s.
 
In short, 126-91 was an accurate representation of the evening. A very accurate representation indeed.
 
“We wanted to win,” said the Spiritual Gangster Kerr. “We weren’t happy with our Cleveland game on Christmas Day, and any time you are facing a team that you know is one of the best in the league, you are going to be up for it. We were definitely up for it. You could tell we had a lot of good energy and played a really good game.”
 
Gangster understates his position here, as the entire game was WATB – Warriors At Their Best. They burst from the anthem quickly, put a foot on the Cavaliers before they could make the game interesting and kept it there throughout. While some folks wanted to make the Green-James collision the linchpin of the result (and it did energize the torqued-up crowd), the Warriors were already ahead, 52-35, and the Cavs never got within 14. By the half, they were down 29 and stayed there.
 
To further accentuate the energy the Warriors brought to their task of redressing the pregame narrative of a 34-6 team wracked with doubts, they outrebounded Cleveland, 58-35, allowing the Cavs only seven offensive rebounds on 57 misses. They had 10 steals and 11 blocks, and outscored the Cavs 37-13 on fastbreak points. And while the Cavs were hammered comprehensively from the top of the roster down, James’ minus-32 is the second worst of his entire career, playoffs included.
 
In short, the Warriors view this as a very real rivalry no matter what James may say in his passive-aggressive moments, and they had a run of losses and the mockery of a nation with which to deal.
 
“Oh, it’s definitely a rivalry,” Green said with that smile he uses to break people’s wills. “Just me, though. I don’t know about anyone else. But it’s definitely fun.”
 
Nor, frankly, does he care much, as you may have gathered in your time paying attention to him.
 
Besides, it’s a long time until June 1, and there are miles for both teams to walk before that happens, if it happens at all.
 
And yes, please let it happen.

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

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USATSI

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant is a four-time NBA scoring champion. He's averaging 18.6 shots per game this season, and 18.8 for his career.

So, seeing a box score where he attempted six shots in 35 minutes is strange.

After the Warriors beat the Pistons 121-114 on Sunday night in Oakland, Durant and head coach Steve Kerr addressed his low shot total.

"Kevin is such a great, talented player that he can just do whatever he wants on the floor," Kerr told the media at Oracle. "So, he decided to be a distibutor tonight. Obviously, 11 assists, I thought his defense was great. He's just one of those guys that's so talented that whatever he chooses to do that night, that's what he does."

Durant took a big-picture outlook on his stat line.

"I'm a well-rounded player and I can still affect the game without taking a bunch of shots," Durant told the media. "I thought I passed the ball well, I thought I played a great floor game. I know you're used to putting me in a box as a player, but I've grown."

In the Warriors' loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, Durant took 25 shots. Steph Curry sat out, putting the onus on Durant to carry the offense. But he wasn't happy with how he played against Dallas, and didn't want to make the same mistakes against Detroit.

"I didn't want to force shots tonight, and some of the shots I would have took tonight would have been forced, and last night I forced a bunch," Durant said.

[RELATED: Kerr on Curry's rest plan]

Durant finished with 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

OAKLAND -- The Warriors can be sensitive about the subject of Steph Curry’s workload. He wants to play every game while striving to be a great husband and father and also making broad use of his massive social platform.

The Warriors understand all of this, and they do not want to obstruct any of it.

Yet workload management is one of the reasons Rick Celebrini was hired last summer to serve as the team’s director of Sports Medicine and Performance. Aided by high-tech fitness tools, he monitors every player for fatigue levels and beyond.

As much as the Warriors hope to nab the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, if not the NBA, everything goes through Celebrini. He is the gatekeeper of player availability. He decided that DeMarcus Cousins will not play in back-to-back games this season, that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston will remain on routine body-maintenance programs and that Curry should miss the occasional game – such as Saturday against the Mavericks.

Curry seemed to benefit from the rest.

He scored 11 points in the first quarter Sunday and finished with team-high 26 in a 121-114 win over the Detroit Pistons.

With Curry, assuming he’s not injured, it’s a fine line. With the other veterans, the decisions are much more defined. Cousins is coming off a major injury, Iguodala and Livingston are mid-30s veterans requiring rest at regular intervals.

“Each player, we look at individually,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “With DeMarcus, we made the decision based on Rick’s assessment that he should just not play back-to-backs this season. So, he’s not going to.

“Andre and Shaun both, periodically we’ve been giving rest to for the last several years based on the age and wear and tear.

“And then, every once in a while, it will come up that Rick will recommend we give somebody a rest. Last night it was Steph.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Warriors' win over Pistons]

Sitting Curry was precautionary, according to Kerr. His work schedule and his numerous off-the-court endeavors leave him open to overload.

“He’s been going a couple months straight and has looked a little tired the last couple weeks,” Kerr said. “It made perfect sense. We will be better for it in the long run.”

It definitely looked that way on Sunday.