The first factor that will dictate the fate of the Warriors is health, so they are encouraged that Stephen Curry’s sore left ankle should not keep him off the court Friday night.
Curry on Friday afternoon was upgraded to “probable” from “questionable” for the second consecutive game against the favored Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center. LA won the first game, posting a 108-101 victory Wednesday night.
Forward Andrew Wiggins, however, appeared on the injury report after being diagnosed with a left quadriceps contusion. He is listed as “questionable.”
The Warriors (4-4) put up a battle on Wednesday, coming back to take a five-point with a little more than eight minutes remaining, but the Clippers (6-3) recovered to outscore the Warriors 22-10 over the final 7:29.
Here are three keys for the Warriors, with or without Curry, to avoid being on the wrong end of a two-game sweep:
Get on the glass
Rebounding has been a liability more often than not this season, as the Warriors have been outrebounded in seven of eight games – four times by double digits.
They were minus-13 (48-35) in that category Wednesday, as LA’s Serge Ibaka and Paul George combined to grab 26. Golden State’s starting frontcourt – Draymond Green, James Wiseman and Wiggins – combined for 11, led by Green’s six.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr previously has not acknowledged rebounding as a problem that could compel the front office to seek another big man, but he also conceded that the issue might be revisited if it continues.
Run at every opportunity
The Clippers’ transition defense has been vulnerable. It’s the direct source of two of their losses, as they were minus-18 (26-8) in losing to the Spurs and minus-25 (28-3) in losing to the Mavericks.
LA was only minus-3 ((9-6) against the Warriors on Wednesday. They no doubt have made some adjustments, but the fact remains that LA has been at its best when the game is at a moderate pace. News flash: Kawhi Leonard and George are superb in isolation.
The Warriors have to force the issue by defending with high intensity and speeding up the overall pace, even if it means committing a few early turnovers. They’ll have to rebound better, obviously, but they’ll benefit if they can lull the Clippers into a fast-paced game.
Second unit rerun
The Warriors are developing chemistry within their second unit – generally guards Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore, forwards Damion Lee and Wiggins, and 6-foot-6 Eric Paschall at center – and it showed on Wednesday.
Despite a talented LA bench, led by the three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, Golden State’s reserve crew posted a 47-34 scoring advantage over the Clippers’ bench. Paschall, who scored 19 points in 20 minutes, is becoming a consistent offensive force.
If Wiggins is ruled out, Kerr has several replacement options. Bazemore, Lee and Mulder are the likeliest options. Regardless, Wiggins’ absence would impact the rotation. He’s in the “bridge” role, a secondary scorer with the starters and the primary scorer off the bench.