Warriors

Warriors vs. Suns watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

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AP

Warriors vs. Suns watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

The Warriors close out 2018 on Monday night with a New Year’s Eve matchup with the sneaky-dangerous Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 5 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, followed by tipoff scheduled for 6:05.

The Warriors (24-13) put on a solid show Saturday night in Portland, taking the lead late in the first quarter and never losing it in a 115-105 win over the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Klay Thompson had his best offensive game in more than a month, scoring 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including 4 of 5 from deep.

Though the Suns are just 9-28 and headed for another trip to the draft lottery, they are 5-4 over their last nine games and have several talented young players, led by guard Devin Booker and rookie center DeAndre Ayton.

If the Warriors don’t have the proper focus, they could find themselves in for a fight.

Projected lineups

Warriors
G Stephen Curry
G Klay Thompson
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C Kevon Looney

Suns
G Devin Booker
G De’Anthony Melton
F Mikal Bridges
F TJ Warren
C DeAndre Ayton

Injury report

Warriors
Center DeMarcus Cousins (left Achilles tendon rehab) and center Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) are listed as out.

Suns
No injuries listed.

Rotation outlook

Warriors
Coach Steve Kerr went deep into his bench Saturday, playing 10 different players at least 12 minutes. Forward Andre Iguodala’s ejection forced some shuffling, but Kerr had vowed more liberal use of his bench. ...

Thompson's shooting accuracy was remarkable, but was it a one-game phenomenon? He hasn't shot above 50 percent in back-to-back games since Nov. 10. ...

No doubt Curry noticed that Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray cooked the Suns for 46 points Saturday in Phoenix. ...

Durant has scored at least 20 points in 24 of the last 25 games. ...

Looney was more involved in the offense, scoring nine first-quarter points at Portland. Don’t be surprised if that plan is reengaged in an effort to get Ayton into foul trouble or pull him away from the paint. ...

Because the Suns like to play fast, it’s conceivable that center Jordan Bell will get an opportunity. He has been mediocre this season, but his athleticism and the team’s thinness in the middle could push him into action.

Suns: Ayton was spectacular against the Nuggets, with 33 points on 16-of-20 shooting, along with 14 rebounds and four steals. The last rookie to shoot 80 percent on at least 20 shots was Hakeem Olajuwon on Dec. 6, 1984 against the Warriors. Ayton had 24 points in the second quarter. ....

Booker has posted at least 25 points and eight assists in each of the last six games. Only Michael Jordan, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have longer such streaks since 1984. ...

There’s a good chance the Suns talked plenty about backcourt defense in the wake of Murray’s performance. Neither Booker nor Melton is a particularly strong defender, though. ...

Warren made 28 3-pointers last season. He has 60 this season and his converting at a 43.8 percent clip. ...

Do the Suns play hard? Here’s the evidence: Phoenix leads the NBA in steals (10.5) and deflections (17.5) per game, and it ranks sixth in forcing turnovers (16.6).

Why you should expect Steph Curry to have big Game 5 for Warriors

Why you should expect Steph Curry to have big Game 5 for Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders tonight at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Steph Curry did not shoot the ball well in the Warriors' Game 4 win at the Clippers. The two-time NBA MVP shot 3 of 14 overall and 1 of 9 from deep, scoring just 12 points.

It was the 22nd time in the Warriors star’s career that he registered fewer than 20 points in a playoff game.

So, why should you expect a big game from Curry in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena?

Because the prior 21 times in which he didn't score at least 20, he averaged 27.8 points in the next game.

After scoring just 11 points in Game 3 of last year's NBA Finals against the Cavs, he racked up 37 points in the Game 4 closeout.

Speaking of "closeout games," here are Curry's numbers the last eight times the Warriors had the opportunity to end a series:
— Game 4 at Portland in 2017 = 37 points, eight assists
— Game 4 at Utah in 2017 = 30 points, seven assists
— Game 4 at San Antonio in 2017 = 36 points, six assists
— Game 4 at Cleveland in 2017 = 14 points, 10 assists
— Game 5 vs Cleveland in 2017 = 34 points, 10 assists 
— Game 5 vs New Orleans in 2018 = 28 points, eight assists
— Game 7 at Houston in 2018 = 27 points, 10 assists
— Game 4 at Cleveland in 2018 = 37 points, four assists

That's an average of 30.4 points and 7.9 assists per game.

[RELATEDKlay jokes about 'shark' Bogut coming back again next year]

As you’re well aware, Golden State would advance to the Western Conference semifinals with a win over the Clippers.

Also, it's safe to assume that Curry watched what Damian Lillard did Tuesday night and is champing at the bit to take the floor.

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Draymond Green praises Damian Lillard after incredible buzzer-beater

Draymond Green praises Damian Lillard after incredible buzzer-beater

OAKLAND – The latest shot heard ‘round the world occurred Tuesday night in Portland, Ore., on national TV, before the disbelieving eyes of NBA stars accustomed to buzzer-beating heroics.

Oakland’s own Damian Lillard, however, shot his way through any pretense of aloofness. HIs game-winning, series-clinching 37-foot jumper over Oklahoma City defensive ace Paul George was an act of such hubris that it sent dozens of players around the NBA running to their phones to praise the way the Trail Blazers star punctuated his 50-point performance.

Draymond Green, basketball aficionado that he is, was among them, tweeting out a three-word message – “Damn Dame! Wow!” – late Tuesday night.

“Yeah, that was crazy,” Green said Wednesday after Warriors shootaround ahead of Game 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“That whole series he played was pretty amazing,” he added. “Dame has been a great player in this league, a guy who I’ve been respecting. But I gained a lot more respect after just the entire series he put together with the back-and-forth between him and Russ (Westbrook) and the way he kept his poise and just continued to lead the team. That was amazing.”

Lillard and Westbrook are bitter rivals, with the Thunder guard doing most of the stoking. They are a study in contrasts, Westbrook the brash trash-talker always running hot while Lillard’s style is understated, rich with swagger dipped in ice.

Green and Lillard are friendly rivals, partly because both entered the league to the shrugs and yawns of skeptics.

“Obviously, he can score the ball with the best of them,” Green said. “But Dame has a chip on his shoulder and has since the day he walked into this league. Just the way he’s grinding, he plays like a guy from Oakland, with a chip on his shoulder. A guy who has been doubted forever. And that showed up in a major way in that series.”

Among the other high-profile athletes to comment on social media were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jamal Crawford, Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Love, Trae Young, Allen Iverson, Candace Parker and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

[RELATED: Draymond vows to play through pain]

Draymond also responded to George’s postgame statement that Lillard took a “bad shot.”

“There are still bad shots, even if they go in,” Green said. “But I don’t know if you could really say that then, if they’re getting 50. I don’t know if you get 50 if any shot is a bad shot, because heat checks and everything are allowed at that point if you get 50. Incredible performance.”