5 keys for Warriors in second half of season


5 keys for Warriors in second half of season

With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, its timefor the second half of the season to begin. The Warriors begin Part II withfive consecutive road games, starting Tuesday night in Indiana.Golden State is 13-17, but coach Mark Jackson continues tomaintain the Warriors are a playoff team. If they hope to get to thepostseason, the Warriors are going to have to start piling up thewins.While theyre only three games out of the eighth and finalplayoff spot in the Western Conference, they would have to leapfrog four teamsif they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.Here are five keys to the second half of theseason:

1. Bench keeps rolling: Behind BrandonRush and Ekpe Udoh, the Warriors bench has been the teams biggest bright spot.Rush and Udoh have anchored the teams second unit, while Nate Robinson,Dominic McGuire and Klay Thompson have chipped in on a less consistentbasis.Still, the Warriors second unit has an identity andchemistry, and the team as a whole needs for all of it to continue.2. Improvement from Jackson: First-yearcoach Mark Jackson has been pretty solid in Year 1, but for the teams end-gameplay and his tendency to over-praise his players.For the Warriors to make a second-half run, hell have toget the team to play even better defense and then hell have to figure out away to carve out more wins in close games.3. Curry and Lee in crunch-time: MontaEllis game-winning jumper over Grant Hill last Wednesday to beat Phoenix wasone of only two games the Warriors have won this season decided by three orfewer points.Overall, the Warriors are 2-6 in those kinds of games. Oneway for the Warriors to win more close games is for Stephen Curry and David Lee, two of theircore players, to begin to deliver more down the stretch of games.Too often the Warriors resort to Ellis or Robinson doingthings on their own late and the results havent been good enough.4. Tighten things across board: There hasbeen no one thing that has been the Warriors bugaboo this season. One gamesits rebounding, another its turnovers, the game after that its failing toexecute offensively down the stretch.In short, the Warriors have to show improvement in theiroverall game and do a better job of taking care of the little things, asJackson calls them.5. Win on the road: Unless the Warriorscan find a way to better their 4-8 mark on the road this season, theyre notgoing anywhere. No team in the Western Conference has a bigger discrepancybetween home games (18) and road games (12) than the Warriors, which will makethe second half of the season even more challenging.The Sacramento Kings, for example, have played 21 road gamesand just 12 home games. The bottom line is the Warriors have to do somethingthey havent done for years: Win consistently away from Oracle.

Rewind: Despite 6-1 preseason record, Warriors 'still have a ways to go'

Rewind: Despite 6-1 preseason record, Warriors 'still have a ways to go'

OAKLAND – The Warriors, AKA Super Team, closed the preseason Friday night with the same super look exhibited in two previous games, informing the NBA that they are ready for games that matter.

For the third consecutive game, Warriors starters routed those of their opponent, this time blasting Portland starting five 80-56. Taking an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter, the reserves took over and held on for a 107-96 win at Oracle Arena.

It was a fairly simple formula. After playing some sleepy defense early, and falling behind 22-6 less than five minutes after tipoff, Steph Curry snapped awake and began putting the Blazers to sleep.

“They came out firing and we weren’t ready to play,” coach Steve Kerr said of the opening minutes.

But with back-to-back 14-point quarters, Curry almost single-handedly gave the Warriors a 57-56 halftime lead before handing the scoring baton to Kevin Durant.

Putting together a 14-point third quarter of his own, Durant powered a 22-4 run that netted an 86-65 lead with 2:03 left in the third, ending Portland’s night.

“For the most part of in the first half, it was a really good basketball game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “An understatement is the game got away from us in the third quarter. They got hot.”

On a night when Klay Thompson (9 points, 3-of-13 shooting) never found his shot, Curry and Durant combined for 63 points on 23-of-42 shooting from the field, including 13-of-21 from beyond the arc.

“We’re continuing to build chemistry and flow of where shots are going to come from and everybody (is learning) the little nuances of our offense,” Curry said. “Like when to cut, when to come off the dribble and when to screen for somebody, just based on where you are on the court. Those aren’t set play calls; it’s just organized chaos.”

That’s precisely the way Kerr wants the Warriors to play. Defend ferociously to trigger transition, run at every opportunity, take every open 3-pointer and keep the ball and the bodies moving at all times.

“I thought what changed the game was Andre (Iguodala),” Kerr said. “His stat line may not look like it, but he changed the game with his defense, started getting deflections and playing the passing lanes. I thought he and Draymond (Green) kind of picked up the intensity and got us back in the game.”

That’s the thing about the new-and-improved Warriors. They’re dangerous in a dazzling variety of ways. They use defense to disrupt and speed up the game to their liking, and they have a seemingly relentless supply of offensive weapons – with the 3-point shot being their nuclear dagger.

They made 17 treys, in 43 attempts, on Friday – while holding the Blazers to 8-of-26. Picking up the slack for Thompson was Ian Clark, who came off the bench for 17 points in 18 minutes, including three bombs from deep.

It’s not midseason, or even regular season, but it’s what Kerr and his staff hopes to see beginning with the opener on Tuesday night.

“Going 6-1 and winning the Pacific Division preseason title is a big deal; I don’t know if we’re going to hang a banner,” Kerr said, tongue in cheek. “All in all, things are coming together.

“But we still have a ways to go. We’re not there yet. But we probably shouldn’t be there yet. We’re only a few weeks into this thing. We’ll keep working.”

The Warriors may not be “there yet,” but it’s hard to imagine more preseason action would get them any closer. Bring on the regular season. They’re nothing more to prove in games that are not official.

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

OAKLAND – In the final preseason game on the schedule, at his new home of Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant entered the highlight zone.

The team’s newest superstar exhibited his entire scoring arsenal, dropping 3-pointers, soaring in for dunks and swishing mid-range post-ups.

The most impressive dunk came with 9:02 left in the quarter, when Durant took a pass from Draymond Green and finished the fast break by taking off from about 10 feet and throwing it down.

[POOLE: Instant Replay: Curry, Durant light it up in win over Blazers]

The most impressive trey came with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter, when Steph Curry came down in transition, slipped a pass to Durant, who threw it in from 32 feet.

Durant scored 14 points in the third quarter, 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep.

Durant’s line: 28 points (11-of-21, 5-of-8, 1-of-2), seven rebounds, six assists and one block.