Stephen Curry day to day after groin MRI yields ‘encouraging’ results

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Warriors fans can exhale now.

Stephen Curry had an MRI on his strained left adductor — what we non-doctors would call a groin strain — and it came back showing no serious damage. Curry is out Saturday but is day-to-day, he’s not going to miss extended time.

Quinn Cook will get the start for Golden State Saturday against a pesky Brooklyn team.

That there is nothing long-term found in the MRI is good news, although expect the Warriors to be cautious with their star here. The average amount of missed time for a groin strain is 10 days, although the severity of it impacts that number so it could be less, reports Jeff Stotts. Groin strains, just like strained hamstrings, can linger. Players think they are healthy and ready to return to full speed before they actually are, then re-injure them in the heat of competition. The Warriors have the cushion in terms of talent to let Curry rest longer and not risk a big step back.

The Warriors without Draymond Green struggled and lost against Milwaukee Thursday. Without Green or Curry on Saturday, it’s a good day to put Kevin Durant on your daily fantasy team, but the Nets play smart, hard, and everyone tough. That game will be no pushover.

Stephen Curry gets technical, Steve Kerr then ejected in Warriors preseason game

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What is with all the preseason ejections? First, it was Markieff Morris down in Washington (that one seemed like a quick trigger by the ref). Then Boston’s Marcus Smart earned his ejection — and the fine from the league that came later — for trying to fight J.R. Smith.

Now it’s Steve Kerr’s turn.

Nine seconds into the second half Monday night, Stephen Curry picked up a technical foul for protesting a freedom of movement foul where he set a screen and held up the defender (it was Curry’s third offensive foul of the game, but by the tight strictures the league is using on those calls in the preseason, it was a foul). Steve Kerr walked out on the court to express his displeasure with the call (to put it mildly) and he got tossed for doing so.

The Warriors players loved it. Here’s what they said, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I love it,” Curry said.

“It was cool,” Quinn Cook said.

“It was a good reason,” Damian Jones said.

Kerr will get tossed a few times this season in games that matter, too, because he’s got to find a way to light a fire under the two-time defending champions, a team that gets bored at points during the regular season. He may let his players coach the team in huddles again. Whatever it takes.

And it’s never too early for Kerr to make his points, even if it’s a meaningless preseason game (which the Suns ultimately won).

Stephen Curry back in full practice mode for Warriors

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night against New Orleans.

Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 – the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle.

Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday. That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series.

“Steph practiced at 100 percent, he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. “What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. … I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, `He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.”

Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night.

The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors, so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out.

“We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. “He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Golden State looks vulnerable. Can Spurs do anything about it?

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Steve Kerr has been frustrated in recent weeks with his team’s effort. Very frustrated. Walk into the shower, throw a bunch of bats on the floor and call them “lollygaggers” frustrated.

Golden State coasted the last month of the season, much of it without Stephen Curry, and went 7-10 in their final stretch of games. However, the Warriors problems go deeper than a lack of focus and being without Curry — Shaun Livingston has been banged up and not right, Andre Iguodala’s efficiency has dropped this season, and Draymond Green is still shooting just a tick above 30 percent from three. To name just a few things.

The Warriors look vulnerable.

But can the Spurs do anything about it?

Probably not. San Antonio (without Kawhi Leonard, it would be a surprise if he came back now) doesn’t have the athletes. We saw it last year when these teams met in the playoffs and Leonard went down after Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper, at that point the Warriors ran away with the series. The Spurs are not going to beat themselves, they will defend well and make smart plays, the Warriors are going to have to earn it — but Golden State should take the series fairly quickly.

Should. That’s the key, as Kerr said Friday (via Mark Medina of the Mercury News).

“They’re going to bring out the best in us or they’re going to completely expose us,” Kerr said after Friday’s practice. “One way or another, that’s probably a good thing for us.”

It’s probably going to be the former — expect the Warriors to flip the switch.

Here are the things you’ll see Saturday at 3 ET (on ABC) if the sleeping Warriors have awakened.

• Defensive energy and focus. This is what the Warriors have lacked mostly over the past six weeks — since March 1 the Warriors have allowed 106.4 points per 100 possessions, 16th in the NBA. Not terrible by some standards, but last season the Warriors allowed just 101 points per 100, best in the NBA. In February of this season, when the Warriors focused for a while, they allowed just 102.3.

The defensive change needs to start from the team’s leaders — Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. Durant played fantastic defense in the Finals last season, and remember on Christmas Day he did it again against the Cavaliers (leading to some around the team to try and promote him for the All-Defensive team). Then he seemed to check out on that end. He needs to bring his focus back, create some turnovers with his length, and protect the rim a little.

Green has been good but not dominant this season defensively, but that brings us to our next point…

• Draymond Green needs to take charge of this series. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One ties into our first bullet point above — he is the emotional leader of the Warriors. If they are going to snap out of their malaise, it starts with him. If he brings the defensive effort, others will follow.

More than that, Green has vital roles in this series.

Defensively, he will be matched on LaMarcus Aldridge for key stretches — and with Leonard out the San Antonio offense runs through Aldridge (and occasionally Pau Gasol). While Aldridge can shoot fadeaways or little hooks over the top of Green, historically he has struggled to do that efficiently against Green’s physical defense. It also just isn’t going to be one-on-one because the Spurs don’t have enough shooting to space the floor out and scare the Warriors if Aldridge passes out. If Green (and Zaza Pachulia, and David West) can make Aldridge work for his buckets, it becomes difficult for the Spurs to score enough.

On offense, the Warriors need playmaking Green to return and take on a bigger role. He needs to grab rebounds and push the tempo in transition, in the half court they need him to roll down the lane with the ball then kick-out to the open shooters. He’s more than capable of this, we’ve just seen less of it this season.

• Kevin Durant needs to lead — and that’s as much defense as offense. Last season during the Finals Durant was a defensive force, that won him Finals MVP as much as his offense. That continued through the first part of this season up through the Christmas Day game against the Cavaliers — he was playing so well some around Golden State tried to push him for Defensive Player of the Year (or at least a spot on the All-Defensive team). However, after that Durant seemed to coast a little on defense. He wasn’t the same. The Warriors need the earlier Durant back.

On offense, he’s going to get all the touches and shots he wants, Durant just needs to be efficient and a playmaker.

• Other scorers step up besides Durant. KD is going to get his, and Klay Thompson will knock down threes and put up numbers as well, but when the Warriors are clicking the ball moves, guys are cutting, and the role players get clean looks and join in the scoring.

Will a fresh and rested Andre Iguodala get some buckets on hard cuts to the rim? Will David West knock down some midrange jumpers? Can Quinn Cook continue to impress? Will the center by committee group of Pachulia/JaVale McGee/Kevon Looney/Jordan Bell pitch in buckets?

The Warriors will need them because the Spurs can still defend and will make life challenging for Golden State’s big three.

Warriors waive wing Omri Casspi to create roster slot for Quinn Cook

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When Omri Casspi signed with the Warriors last summer for the minimum — turning down more money and potentially more minutes with the Nets — I was in the group that thought this would be great for both sides. The Warriors added another shooter on the wing to their roster, and Casspi had finally found a place where he would shine because the playing style (uptempo with a spaced floor) would fit his game.

Casspi was solid, but often battled injuries and didn’t really take off. He appeared in 53 games for the Warriors and averaged 5.7 points per game, shooting 45.5 percent from three. However, recently it looked more and more like he would get waived as the Warriors solidified their playoff roster, and Saturday night that happened.

Why? Because with Stephen Curry out for the first round and Quinn Cook playing well on his 10-day contracts as a reserve point, the Warriors need to sign Cook and that meant creating a roster spot. Someone had to go, and it wasn’t going to be a big, as Marc Stein of ESPN noted.

Each of those big men — Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Kevin Looney, and Damion Jones — bring a little something different to the table, and coach Steve Kerr said before Saturday’s loss to the Pelicans he may well use every one of them in different situations.

So if a big wasn’t going, Casspi was.

Casspi cannot be picked up by another team at this point for their playoff roster, that would have had to happen by March 1. He is a free agent this summer.