Warriors

What Draymond being doubtful vs. Bucks, Bulls means for Dubs

Warriors

It's never a good time for Draymond Green to miss any games for the Warriors. But his calf tightening up during pregame warmups Sunday is about as inopportune as it gets. 

Green was relegated to opening tip duties and seven seconds of play Sunday in the Warriors' win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his absence was felt right away Tuesday night in a 116-108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies to begin Golden State's tough four-game road trip. 

Coach Steve Kerr doesn't expect Green to play in either of the Warriors' next two games, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday and then the Chicago Bulls on Friday. 

"I think it's doubtful right now that he would join us," Kerr said to reporters. "He's doing well. With the back-to-back, it seems far-fetched to think that we'll just fly him out and play him. He's not ready to do that.

"We'll see how it goes the next couple of days."

If you count his handful of seconds in Klay Thompson's return, Green has missed six games this season. The Warriors now are 2-4 in games that he hasn't played. They're 28-6 in games that he has suited up for, again showing his irreplaceable value to the Warriors.

 

The Warriors quickly went up 8-4 against the Grizzlies, but then the script was flipped in a hurry. The Grizzlies went on a 14-point run at one point in the first quarter behind a scorching-hot Ja Morant. They also had a 13-0 run in the third. Juan Toscano-Anderson started in place of Green at power forward and guarded Morant early on. The star point guard scored 15 of his 29 points in the first quarter. 

Kerr going with a frontcourt of Kevon Looney and Toscano-Anderson didn't work and JTA wound up playing only seven minutes. He was a minus-8 in plus-minus after committing three turnovers and failing to score any points. 

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. also had his way with the Warriors when he wasn't in foul trouble. He finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks shots. Jackson was a plus-16. 

Choose a side. Offense, defense -- Green being gone was felt in major ways. The Warriors committed 12 turnovers that turned into 20 points in the first half. The Grizzlies had just five turnovers before halftime and the Warriors didn't score any points off them. The Warriors wound up turning the ball over 17 times, which led to 26 points for the Grizzlies. 

The Warriors shot 42.7 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers. The Grizzlies shot 44 percent and drained 14 shots from deep. The difference was the turnovers, giving the Grizzlies 18 more shot attempts than the Warriors.

Green also leads the NBA in assist ratio at 42.4. The Warriors only had 25 assists in Memphis, and the Grizzlies had 30. 

It also didn't help that Memphis scored 58 points in the paint, another number that likely would be lower with Draymond there.

Now the challenge becomes even tougher against two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo always is a problem with or without Draymond in the Warriors' starting lineup. The task becomes that much taller without the best defensive player in the NBA. The Bucks are 26-17, which probably is below their standards as the reigning champions. But they're still one of the best teams in basketball, and will be out for blood after losing their last two games. 

The Bucks are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA and only the Grizzlies average more rebounds per game than them. They also are one of the best 3-point shooting teams this season, surrounding Giannis with shooters that he can drive and kick to. 

The Bulls have been perhaps the biggest surprise this season, and improved to a conference-best 27-11 this season after crushing the Detroit Pistons, 133-87, on Tuesday night. DeMar DeRozan dropped 20 points for the 29th time this season as he continues to play his best basketball -- perhaps maybe ever. Chicago has a top-10 offense, and by accuracy, it's been the best 3-point shooting team in either conference.

The Warriors are yet to have played the Bucks this season, but dominated the Bulls by 28 points on Nov. 12. That was only the 12th game of the season, one in which Draymond had nine points, nine rebounds, seven assists and was a plus-10. Bulls center Nikola Vucevic missed that game to COVID-19, and he just scored 22 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists vs. the lowly Pistons.

 

Kerr's comments also mean Klay will have to continue to wait to play with his longtime teammate again. That's a day that Thompson can't wait for. 

"That's the nature of the beast," Thompson said. "Injuries happen, and I'm really excited for that day that I get to play with Dray. We really feed off each other, offensively and defensively."

RELATED: Kerr provides proof Wiseman's rehab is 'going really well'

Thompson scored 14 points and was a team-high plus-17 in just under 20 minutes his second game back. But prior to Tuesday night's game, Kerr said that Thompson would rest against either the Bucks or the Bulls, meaning the Warriors likely will have to play one of those games without both Klay and Draymond. 

Green's presence always is felt when he's wearing a Warriors jersey, just as much as it's missed when he's gone. Whenever he's away, it's a challenge for the Warriors offensively and defensively. The difficulty only will increase without Draymond taking on two of the NBA's best teams later this week.

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