Warriors

Why Klay Thompson is optimistic about Warriors' 2020 NBA title hopes

Why Klay Thompson is optimistic about Warriors' 2020 NBA title hopes

"Don't let us win this one."

Those words famously uttered by Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar prior to Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees have more or less served as a rallying cry for teams down on their luck. They've also served as an edict for those on the precipice of delivering the knockout blow: Don't let them get off the mat.

That line of thinking certainly fits with 2019-20 Warriors and those looking to take them off their perch. The five-time defending Western Conference champions will enter the season still licking their wounds from their 2019 NBA Finals loss and an offseason that saw them lose Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while the rest of the Western Conference got stronger.

Klay Thompson will miss at least half of the season as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL, and many believe the Dubs' hopes of reaching a sixth-straight Finals are grim.

While the outlook for next year appears bleak in terms of championship potential, the rest of the West would be wise to head Millar's advice and not give the Warriors any room to breathe. While Thompson knows the road will be hard, he believes the Warriors need a is a puncher's chance.

“The West is so stacked, not just with the Lakers and Clippers but the Jazz made great moves, the Nuggets are young and upcoming, the Blazers have an amazing backcourt, the Rockets have a two-headed monster in the backcourt with two MVPs still in their prime,” Thompson told The Los Angeles Times' Arash Markazi. “So it’s going to be tough for us, but I assume I’m going to be on the court at some point and hopefully I’ll hit the ground running and we’ll be in playoff contention. That’s all we need is just a shot.”

[RELATED: Russell brings more star power, new element to Dubs]

Steve Kerr will have to rely on Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell to carry the load until Thompson is all systems go. But the Warriors have the championship pedigree, and undoubtedly will be motivated to prove all their doubters wrong.

While the Curry, Thompson, Green, Russell "Big Four" isn't as daunting as the one that included Durant, it's still an opponent no team will want to see in the playoffs. 

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

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AP

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

SAN FRANCISCO -- For years, the Jazz and Warriors have been among the top teams in the Western Conference. 

Now, following a three-game road trip, the Warriors enter Monday's matchup against the Jazz under a new distinction: The tied for worst record in the league.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 7:40 p.m.

Following Sunday's loss to the Thunder, the Warriors fell to 2-8, despite rallying from a 20-point deficit. Meanwhile, after an eventful off-season, the Jazz come to the Bay Area fifth in the Western Conference primed for yet another postseason appearance. 

Here's everything you need to know about the matchup.

PROJECTED LINEUPS 

Warriors
G D'Angelo Russell
G Jordan Poole
F Glenn Robinson III
F Eric Paschall
C Draymond Green

Jazz
F Bojan Bogdanovic
F Royce O'Neale
C Rudy Gobert
G Donovan Mitchell
G Mike Conley

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: Stephen Curry (left hand fracture) out, Jacob Evans (left adductor strain) out, Draymond Green (left index finger sprain) is available, Kevon Looney (Neuropathy in hamstring) out, Eric Paschall (right hip contusion) available, Alen Smailagic (right ankle sprain), Omari Spellman (left ankle sprain) is questionable, Klay Thompson (left ACL rehab) is out.

Jazz: Ed Davis (left fibula fracture) is out, Dante Exum, (right knee rehab) is out, Emmanuel Mudiay (left hamstring tightness) is questionable. 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Jazz: Mitchell has continued his rise in his third season, averaging 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists through nine games. 

Bogdanovic -- who was acquired this summer -- has been fantastic, averaging 21.8 points per game, shooting 49.2 percent from the field, including a game-winning jumper to help the Jazz beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday evening. 

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is continuing his dominance, averaging a team-high 13 rebounds and a block per game. 

Warriors: Green is expected to return following a five-game absence at just the right time. Entering Monday's matchup, Golden State owns the league's worst defense, giving up more than 120 points per game.

Guard D'Angelo Russell is on a tear, averaging 37.3 points, 6.7 assists, and five rebounds over his last three appearances. 

Meanwhile, rookie Jordan Poole has struggled to start the season, shooting just 26 percent from the field through 10 games.

Following a one-game absence, rookie Eric Paschall is expected to return Monday evening to play against Mitchell, his childhood friend.

[RELATED: Steph's promise came 10 years ago today]

OFFICIALS:

Sean Wright (#4) Gediminas Petraitis (#50) JB DeRosa (#62)

Draymond Green willing to return despite aching finger and heavy heart

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AP

Draymond Green willing to return despite aching finger and heavy heart

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a heavy heart and bandaged left hand, Draymond Green plans to be available to the Warriors when they face the Utah Jazz Monday night at Chase Center.

Speaking after shootaround Monday morning, Green, who missed the last four games with a sprained left index finger, is listed as “probable” but said he is prepared to return despite discomfort that might linger throughout most of the season.

“It’s improved,” he said. “It’s not all the way, 100 percent, but I’ll be waiting until March for a finger to become 100 percent. So, you kind of get it to where you can tolerate it and move forward. It’s now at that point -- you kind of mess up your fingers all year, every year -- but it’s back at that point of a normal light sprain.

“Sometimes it’s going to get hit. Just keep it moving. But I can tolerate it now. I can dribble. I can catch. Solid.”

Green’s return comes as the Warriors are exhibiting clear signs of a team in development, with indications of progress while experiencing growing pains that are hard to watch yet impossible to miss. Keen observer that he is, Draymond took note while sitting out.

“These guys have gotten a chance to play a lot of minutes over the last week and a half,” he said. “That helps. It gives us something to (build on) and it gives me something to come back to. And that will be an adjustment, too, because some guys are more aggressive than they were.

“It’s been a little different style of play, so we’re figuring that out as well. But we’re definitely better and more aggressive and we seem to be understanding the defensive rotations and we’re showing more patience on offense.”

Green’s desire to play also sends a message to the team’s many young players. Some injuries necessitate sitting out, while some aches can be managed.

It was apparent, however, that Draymond was thinking less about himself than about a couple acquaintances, both with associations to his beloved Michigan State.

Charles Rogers, a wide receiver taken No. 2 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, died at age 38 over the weekend, reportedly after battling cancer and liver disease.

And Cassius Winston, a member of the current Michigan State basketball team, lost his younger brother, Zachary, who was hit by a train over the weekend. Winston played Sunday, no doubt with his brother in mind, delivering 17 points and 11 assists in a 100-47 rout of Binghamton.

[RELATED: Four NBA draft targets if Warriors end up with No. 1 pick]

“For Cassius to play yesterday was huge for him,” Green said. “Because it’s two hours that you can kind of think about something else. It sucks. My prayers out to the family.

“My prayers also go out to the Rogers family. Charles Rogers was a legend to me. A lot of people look at Chuck and say, ‘Oh, man, he never became what he wanted to become in the NFL.’ He from Saginaw, Michigan. He was a No. 2 pick. He a legend. He paved the way for a lot of us guys coming out of Saginaw after him to believe that we could make it.

“Once Chuck did it, we all thought we could do it.”