Warriors

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

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

Only once in the Steve Kerr era have the Warriors been swept by a team in the regular season. And it wasn’t the San Antonio Spurs or Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers or Oklahoma City Thunder, or any of the most logical candidates.

It was the Indiana Pacers, who last season won in Oakland and Indianapolis to sweep the season series.

The Bucks are in position to accomplish the same feat on Friday, when the Warriors conclude their five-game road trip with their only visit to Milwaukee this season.

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors-Bucks on new MyTeams app]

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 5:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame, followed by tipoff from the Fiserv Forum.

The Warriors (17-9) were clobbered by the Bucks, 134-111, on Nov. 8 at Oracle Arena. Stephen Curry sustained a groin strain in the third quarter that caused him to miss 11 games. The Warriors were down by 26 (95-69) when Curry left the game.

The Bucks (16-7) are off to their best start since 1990-91. They have 11 double-digit wins and lead the league in scoring (121.1 points per game), point differential (10.7) and rebounding (50.3). They also drain an NBA-best 14.6 triples per game.

[RELATED: Why DeMarcus Cousins will go to Warriors' G-League in next couple weeks]

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

G – Klay Thompson
G – Stephen Curry
F – Andre Iguodala
F – Kevin Durant
C – Kevon Looney

Bucks

G – Malcolm Brogdon
G – Eric Bledsoe
F – Khris Middleton
F – Giannis Antetokounmpo
C – Brook Lopez

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: Forward Draymond Green (right toe sprain) is listed as questionable, and will be a game-time decision. Centers DeMarcus Cousins (left Achilles’ tendon surgery rehab) and Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) are listed as out.

Bucks:Forward Ersan Ilyasova (mild concussion) is listed as probable. Big man John Henson (left wrist surgery) is listed as out, and reportedly is part of a proposed trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Forward Christian Wood is on G-League assignment.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: If Green is available, he likely will start but play restricted minutes at power forward. That would give the Warriors four All-Stars in the starting lineup for the first time since a Nov. 5 win over the Grizzlies. ... If Green remains out, Iguodala likely continues to start at small forward, with Alfonzo McKinnie coming off the bench in a similar role. ... Durant will look to bounce back from the last meeting, when he scored 17 points – the last time he failed to get at least 20. ... Power forward Jonas Jerebko is streaking. He made every shot at Atlanta on Monday and again at Cleveland on Wednesday: 8-of-8 field goals, 3-of-3 3-pointers and 4-of-4 free throws. ... Milwaukee’s length makes it unlikely that guard Quinn Cook will get more than token minutes.. . . No matter who is on the court, the key limiting Milwaukee’s transition opportunities. That was a factor in the Bucks scoring 84 points (on 70-percent shooting) in the paint on Nov. 8.

[RELATED: Why Warriors won't rush DeMarcus Cousins; Quinn Cook's fan connection]

Bucks: Though Antetokounmpo is the hub, the Warriors did a decent job of containing him last month, holding him to 24 points (7-of-16 shiitubg) and nine rebounds. Durant is the only legitimate physical matchup and will again be the primary defender. ... Bledsoe was terrific in the last meeting, scoring 26 points (10-of-12 field goals) and finishing plus-30. If the Warriors don’t do a much better job defending his strong drives into the paint, they could be in trouble. ... All five starters are willing 3-point shooters, with Brogdon (49.4 percent) and Middleton (41.9) being particularly dangerous. ... The most explosive bench scorers are guard Pat Connaughton and Ilyasova. ... Guard Matthew Dellavedova, a Saint Mary’s College product, also part of the proposed trade with the Cavaliers. 

DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Warriors' post depth

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Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Warriors' post depth

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

The Warriors crushed Game 3. Exhale, everyone!

Kevin Durant set the tone from tip-off and dropped a monster performance with 38 points and seven assists. After declaring at practice, "I'm Kevin Durant" and Steve Kerr backing that up with, "Kevin is the most skilled basketball player on Earth," KD let his play do the talking during the game.

The Clippers have yet to hold the Dubs to less than 50 percent shooting from the field in the series. And when the Warriors limit their turnovers, it's a whole new ballgame.

Game On!

@Danno869 "Team" is important to the Warriors, how much did the injury to Boogie affected the emotions of the team?

Via IG, @jeffvega: Do you think losing Boogie for possibly the rest of the playoffs will make the entire team re-focus?

The Warriors are sad for DeMarcus Cousins because they know the work he did to rehab. He missed nearly a year of playing time. He was open about the dark days he went through. When there was so much build-up to his return, and seeing his skill level and the kind of teammate he is, watching DeMarcus go down with another injury is a punch to the heart.

Now, they play for him. Add it to the gas tank fueling the desire to three-peat.

The Warriors are forced to re-focus because the season-long mission to fold DeMarcus into the offense now is a sudden change to adjust without him. This situation takes attention and recalibration at a time when the competition is at the highest level.

Before the team flew to LA, Draymond Green said they’re giving DeMarcus his space for a little while. Sometimes there’s nothing to say in those first days until you have time to process the emotions.

@wiltthestilt20 Is Cousins going to re-sign with the warriors for next season?

That’s uncertain, but the door is open a little wider. As Monte Poole explained, the Warriors couldn’t afford DeMarcus next season because he was expected to command a deal in the $20 million range. Now with two injuries to the same leg, DeMarcus’ value could drop into affordable territory.

The Warriors like having DeMarcus around. A sad situation could turn into something mutually beneficial.

@dfs30745 What is the status of Damian Jones? Is he up to playing speed?

@Nickaiah #AskKerith Please what are the options to fill up Cousins’ spot on the roster (if necessary) and how far away is Damian Jones?

Via IG, moks_ma: When will Damian Jones play?

It’s unlikely Jones will play in the postseason. Steve Kerr said he’s happy with how Jones is progressing after his pectoral muscle tear, but Jones has not been cleared for contact.

Also, if Jones were to become available, it would be rough to throw him into playoffs. Remember all the runway DeMarcus got to get his conditioning up? Jones hasn’t played in a game since December, and throwing him into the toughest games in a season, with the highest pressure to perform, isn’t ideal.

As far as adding someone to the roster, that someone was Andrew Bogut. Teams can go into the postseason with 15 players. Then that playoff roster locks.

Via IG, @anthony_baldini: What is Kevon Looney’s ceiling? Are these playoffs his payday?

Kevon Looney has been solid, notably in Game 2, when he had 19 points, a new career high, on 6-of-6 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the stripe. He’s also setting some vicious screens and fouling less.

Loon is an unrestricted free agent next season, and the Warriors will try to bring him back. He tested the open market last season and found it tepid. Next season could be an occasion for both parties to commit to each other longer.

To me, Looney’s growth is what happens when you give a guy room to develop and play regularly. Youngsters take time to reach their potential, plus he had injuries to overcome. Kerr likes Loon’s easygoing nature and professionalism. That’s the kind of guy you want in the locker room, and his play is making an impact.

@kelcatinc Your thoughts on Jordan Bell and potential for minutes with Boogie sidelined. Looks to be on a short leash but understandable. He looks slow and not engaged, is it due to lack of minutes or is it just him?

I don’t think Jordan is slow or not engaged. I think he’s low on the pecking order on Warriors’ centers, and playing time has been hard to come by. That compounds an issue: How do you play well when you’re not getting game time to work out the kinks? How do you build a rhythm?

Some of the lack of playing time is on him. He needs to be reliable. Some of this is his small role on a really good team.

Jordan played well last season against Houston, so matchups will have a say on his minutes, in addition to the Warriors relying on their depth with DeMarcus out. Jordan's job is to be ready.

Via IG, @jewwels85: With so much experience how do the players deal with the mental effect of the playoff highs and lows. What do they do to stay grounded?

A handful of them bring their golf clubs on trips. They get away from basketball and find their happy place.

If you’re on a team defending a championship and the playoffs require your absolute best, your emotional bandwidth prioritizes work. You must perform with no distractions. Work takes up the bulk of your time. In the small pockets when you’re not working, you clear your mind with the things that enrich you. That definitely includes time away from coworkers. The Warriors didn’t practice the day after the Game 2 loss. They exhaled, away from each other. It’s a mental reset.

The players simplify things this time of year. The routine shrinks to basic things like eat, sleep, work, family, repeat. They do fewer events and charity work during the playoffs. Time is precious, and they devote most of it to the championships hunt.

@stagedarren #askKerith Does the coaching staff have individual game plans? Do they make specific strategies for the specific opponent? Or do they just plan to do the same thing, no matter who they play?

The strategy is specific for the opponent, because each opponent is different. The four assistant coaches rotate “scouts” during the regular season. A scout is where they study a team’s players and tendencies to make a plan for disrupting how that team operates.

As the Warriors headed into playoffs and three teams could have been the eight seed, the coaches (and video staff!) started doing their scouts to be as prepared as possible for whichever opponent they got. In the playoffs, everyone combines observations for the scout.

@Brasi_Leo #askKerith How do you cope when the Warriors lose a game? Does it get to you?

Losses don’t bother me. I hope that doesn’t sound cold, but I’m a reporter, not a fan of the team. My job is to be neutral.

The environment feels better when they’re winning, but the outcomes don’t swing my emotions. I’d do the same things covering a 60-win team as a 20-win team.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

Kevin Durant shows his MVP self in Warriors' Game 3 win vs. Clippers

Kevin Durant shows his MVP self in Warriors' Game 3 win vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES – Kevin Durant strolled into the interview room late Thursday night and made a reasonably good effort to downplay his scintillating performance, which wiped away three days of misery and reflection for the Warriors.

“I’ve been here for 12 years,” he said, referring to his NBA career. “I’m 30. I don’ t need to show nobody nothing at this point.”

He didn’t need to, but he did it anyway.

“Coach Kerr came up with some plays for me at the start of the game,” he said.

OK. Probably so.

“We were just more patient tonight, to sum it up,” he said.

Well, yes, they were.

But the Warriors also were more purposeful and insanely intense early, with Durant setting the tone, treating Staples Center as his personal playpen, with him having all the fun and needing only one fantastic half to bury the gritty Clippers and their “gimmicky” defenses into a deep, dark dungeon from which even they will have a devil of a time escaping.

For this tip-to-buzzer 132-105 victory that gives the Warriors a 2-1 series lead, Durant was as much the architect as coach Steve Kerr or any member of his staff. Durant punished the Clippers with his scoring, zapping the pest that is Patrick Beverley, and then finished them with the other elements of his game.

“He came out super aggressive, in kill mode,” Draymond Green said. “That was all the difference for us. We took control of the game right there in the first quarter and never lost control of it.”

Scoring 38 points – 27 in the first half on 10-of-15 shooting – and adding seven assists, four rebounds, one steal and one block, Durant didn’t do it all, but he did more than enough to bring his teammates along for the wonderful ride.

“He had a different mindset tonight than he had the other night,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He set a tone right away. Our guys loved it. His teammates were excited about the way he started the game. That was infectious, carried over to our defense too.”

There have been times when Durant seemed less than fully engaged, maybe lounging in a corner on offense or failing to hustle back on defense. Not in Game 3. He played at MVP level, with high energy and visible passion and flame beneath his feet.

He also was the center of the most fervent overall team spirit seen from the Warriors in recent weeks, even as they were closing the season winning eight of their last games. Durant didn’t just produce, he also was a galvanizing emotional presence.

This is the full Durant, the KD the Clippers didn’t want to see and the dude he implied he would be when he resorted to third-person reference to remind one and all of his elite status.

“He made those statements with confidence, you know?” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. “He plays at a high level. We expected that. The only thing I’m disappointed about is he announced himself before he even got here. We didn’t come prepared.”

There likely was no preparation that might have helped Los Angeles. Beverley, such an irritant in the first two games, was rendered an irrelevant speck of futility. JaMychal Green, bigger and stronger, tried defending Durant and got burned for his effort; the only notable remnant of their matchup was the double technical fouls assessed after they got too gabby with each other for referee Jason Phillips.

Durant can shrug it off if he likes. It is, after all, no better than dozens of games he has played during his career.

[RELATED: Watch KD's huge block on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander]

But this came under broad audience surveillance after Durant played below his standard in Games 1 and 2, leaving so many fans and maybe some teammates and coaches on the edge of their seats wondering how he would approach Game 3.

Durant approached it with a vengeance, by showing the Clippers they can’t stop him and reminding everyone else why the Warriors brought him to the Bay Area. And, yes, why several teams would love to bring truckloads of cash his way when he becomes a free agent in July.