Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

Leave a comment

Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.

 

Warriors beat Spurs in glum Game 3

Leave a comment

The Spurs were playing with heavy hearts following the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston appeared to injure their left ankles on back-to-back plays late.

Everyone seemed ready for the Warriors’ 110-97 Game 3 win Thursday to end well before it did.

Soon enough, the first-round series will. Golden State is up 3-0, and all 127 teams to win the first three games of a best-of-seven series won it – most of them via sweep. Game 4 is Saturday in San Antonio.

There’s hope neither Durant’s nor Livingston’s injury is serious. Durant walked off on his own, though gingerly. Livingston shot his free throws before exiting.

Durant (26 points) and Klay Thompson (19 points) have carried the Warriors’ offense with Stephen Curry sidelined by his own injury. If Durant isn’t at full strength for Game 4, Golden State could really struggle to score.

But it still might not matter, as the Spurs are overmatched against the Warriors’ dialed-in defense. Draymond Green (10 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals) led tonight’s effort.

After two losses in Oakland to start the series, returning to San Antonio didn’t do much for the Spurs, who were 33-8 at home and 14-27 on the road this season – the NBA’s largest home-road disparity in a half decade. It’s just had to see San Antonio – whether Popovich returns or Ettore Messina remains acting coach – finding enough sources of offense.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala has knack for big playoff performances

Getty Images
2 Comments

OAKLAND, Calif. — Andre Iguodala knocked down another clutch 3-pointer and let out some rare emotion, triumphantly reaching his arms out wide as he ran back to the defensive end. The Golden State swingman had thrown down a spectacular alley-oop dunk only 31 seconds earlier, and he was feeling it as the clocked ticked away on a second straight lopsided playoff win.

There’s something about Iguodala in the postseason. He paces himself through the regular season to be fresh and ready – and sometimes dominant – on the big stage for the defending NBA champions.

“Everyone gets hyped when Andre gets hyped because that’s a rare occurrence,” teammate Klay Thompson said. “You might see it on the golf course.”

It’s just what the short-handed Warriors were hoping to see.

Iguodala is back in the starting lineup for Golden State’s first-round series against the Spurs, filling in for Stephen Curry as the two-time MVP recovers from a sprained left knee. That’s how versatile Iguodala is: the 6-foot-6 swingman can be inserted in place of a point guard. The Warriors will go for a 3-0 lead Thursday when the best-of-seven series shifts to San Antonio.

At 34, Iguodala knows how to take care of himself over the long grind of an NBA season, all to be prepared to do whatever is asked of him in the playoffs.

“For us to be able to throw Andre out there really 1 through 4 both offensively and defensively, it’s an incredibly valuable weapon,” coach Steve Kerr said.

That’s when he has been at his brilliant best for the Warriors – and they are getting their money’s worth from a major investment last summer.

Many feared he might leave, but Iguodala received a $48 million, three-year contract to stay put and chase another championship. Even if he could have landed a bigger role elsewhere.

“Well, we met with him and we gave him our pitch and lots of money so we were hoping he wasn’t going to leave,” Kerr said. “I didn’t anticipate him leaving because he knows this is a great situation for him and we rewarded him for everything he’s done and for what we think he can do for us. I think this year was a good example of that. A lot of people were grumbling about he’s not shooting the ball well or whatever. … It’s the incredible defense, amazing awareness, intelligence, leadership.”

Iguodala keeps it simple, whether he’s in the lineup or coming off the bench: “Just try to do whatever it takes to help the team get over the hump and get a win.”

In 2015, Kerr moved Iguodala into the starting lineup, and he became Finals MVP as the franchise captured its first championship in 40 years.

Golden State is hoping for the same this spring. Iguodala had only started seven times before Game 1 of the playoffs Saturday, when he had seven rebounds, four assists and three points.

That’s after he missed four of the final five regular season games with a sore left knee.

“He’s definitely got to pace himself, the man’s played so much hoops in the last 15 years,” Thompson said. “Andre is a gamer. He is going to step up in the biggest moments, and right now it’s the playoffs. We have all the trust in the world for him, that’s why he’s a Finals MVP.”

On Monday, Iguodala finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block.

And he can guard anybody.

“His hands are so good. That’s the small thing that people don’t realize, he’s got great hands when he gets steals,” Kevin Durant said. “So guys are just thinking about that when they’re trying to score on him. As a scorer you’ve got to think about something other than getting to your spots or getting into your rhythm and it throws you off just a little bit. And that’s all you need to guard the best player, just for them to think just a tiny bit and Dre does that.”

Iguodala was part of the Warriors group that traveled to the Hamptons to persuade Durant to join a super team in July 2016.

“I always knew what Andre could do,” Durant said. “I played two USA teams with him, so I kind of knew his value. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to go out and say, `Here, Dre, give us 30 points.’ He’s one of those who can do just about everything good – he can shoot, he can pass, he can dribble, he can defend, he can rebound, he can do all those things really good. It’s not like he wants to do one thing more than the other.”

 

Stephen Curry, Warriors lead NBA in merchandise sales. Again.

Getty Images
2 Comments

Fans still love them some Stephen Curry. And the Golden State Warriors. For the past two seasons, when it came to player jerseys sales, Curry has been on top of the list of players. His Warriors have been the top seller of team merchandise.

That did not change this past season.

The NBA released the Top 15 players in jersey sales this season, and some familiar names were at the top.

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:
1. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
2. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
3. Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
5. Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
6. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
7. Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
8. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
9. James Harden (Houston Rockets)
10. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
11. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
12. Lonzo Ball (Los Angeles Lakers)
13. Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
14. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
15. Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves)

The top three remained the same as last year, but Antetokounmpo leapt up to fourth from ninth as his popularity continues to skyrocket. Irving moved up a spot with his move to Boston. Porzingis and Leonard remained in the top 10 despite injuries on the court limiting their play. Lonzo being above Lillard just seems wrong on a gut level, but that’s the world we live in.

As for team merchandise, which is now made by Nike:

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Boston Celtics
6. Milwaukee Bucks
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
8. New York Knicks
9. Chicago Bulls
10. Houston Rockets

If LeBron is on the move again this summer, it will shake up the team rankings considerably.

Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson lead Warriors to a 2-0 series lead on Spurs

Getty Images
Leave a comment

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry watched another lopsided win from the bench in sheer delight, wearing a sport coat and big smile.

The steady hands of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson certainly have made the two-time MVP’s absence far less daunting for the defending champions so far in these playoffs.

Durant sparked a decisive third-quarter run on the way to 32 points, Thompson added 31 points and five assists in another superb playoff performance and the Golden State Warriors rallied in the second half to beat the San Antonio Spurs 116-101 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

As Curry remains out likely for the entire series nursing a sprained left knee, the Warriors used all the offensive power they had to take both home games in the best-of-seven series.

“No one can make up Steph’s contributions individually,” Thompson said. “That’s got to be done as a team and even then it’s hard with the way he can shoot the ball.”

Thompson has found his touch after missing two weeks in March with a broken right thumb.

He followed up his brilliant 11-for-13 shooting day in a 113-92 Game 1 rout Saturday by hitting 12 of 20 shots. Durant also had six rebounds and six assists for the Warriors, who went without key backup big man David West down the stretch after he sprained his left ankle early in the fourth.

Coach Steve Kerr stuck with JaVale McGee as his starting center and the 7-footer contributed 10 points and seven rebounds as the well-rounded defending champions again showed off their remarkable depth.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 for the Spurs despite facing double-teams and Rudy Gay moved into the starting lineup and scored 12 points.

Game 3 is Thursday as the series shifts to San Antonio.

Thompson managed just three shots in the first quarter and began 1 for 5. He pounded the basketball down with two hands, frustrated, midway through the second quarter. Then he found his groove.

“He hit some tough shots off one leg and you know had some opportunity bounces,” Aldridge said. “That’s why they are who they are. They made tough shots. KD made tough shots.”

A baseline 3 with 55.9 seconds left before halftime was his first of the night and got Golden State within 49-45 before the Spurs took a 53-47 lead at intermission.

Draymond Green began 0 for 5 before his first basket on the opening possession of the fourth quarter and Durant missed his five 3-point tries in the first half then finally hit from deep early in the third.

The Warriors opened the third on a 19-5 run to take charge but this time the Spurs didn’t go away.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went with Gay in the starting lineup for Kyle Anderson in an effort to generate more scoring – and his team still struggled to make shots.

Popovich said before the game that Golden State in Game 1 played “the most stifling defense we faced all year long. That was the best defensive 48 minutes that we have competed against all year long.”

Kerr knew Popovich would have his team better prepared.

And the Spurs showed higher intensity on both ends through the first half, working to keep the ball out of Durant’s hands or contest shots while jumping in passing lanes to force mistakes.

Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, started a second straight game and had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Warriors beat the Spurs for the 10th time in 11 games covering the regular season and playoffs.

San Antonio struggled from the floor for the second straight game, finishing 35 for 85 (41.2 percent). In Game 1, the Spurs shot 40 just percent while going 9 for 22 from deep and got outrebounded 51-30.