Bucks-Warriors: What to watch for

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Bucks-Warriors: What to watch for

Programming note: Chat with Warriors Insider Matt Steinmetz during the first quarter of tonight's Warriors - Bucks game in our Jack in the Box Ask the Expert chat!

All of sudden what was looking like arelatively uneventful Friday night game between the Bucks and Warriors atOracle Arena is going to be as interesting as all get-out.Shooting guard Monta Ellis, who wastraded to Milwaukee on Tuesday, will be playing against his former team, theWarriors, in his initial game with the Bucks.Ellis played seven-plus seasons for theWarriors and was one of the franchises most well-liked players. On Tuesday,Ellis, along with Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, were traded to Milwaukee forAndrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. The Warriors subsequently moved Jackson alongto San Antonio for Richard Jefferson.It should be a very intriguing eveningat Oracle Arena, with some kind of tribute or honoring of Ellis to likely comebeforehand. Here are some things to watch for during Friday nightsBucks-Warriors game:
Ellis role: MontaEllis will likely start for the Bucks and be paired alongside Brandon Jennings.That makes two quick, explosive guards in the backcourt for the Bucks, and theWarriors are going to have to combat that in some way.The Warriors started Nate Robinson andKlay Thompson in the backcourt against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.Regardless of which player guards which, Thompson will have his hands full witheither Ellis or Jennings.Effort level: Iftheres been one consistent pattern in the two games the Warriors have playedwithout Ellis, its that the Warriors have been playing with energy and effort.They blew out the Kings in Sacramento on the night the trade went down and thencame back on Wednesday and played the Celtics more than tough at OracleArena.Expect no shortage of effort from theWarriors again on Friday.Jeffersons possible debut:Warriors general manager Larry Riley said on Thursday that it waspossible, though not assured, that newly acquired small forward RichardJefferson would play against the Bucks.If Jefferson does play, hed likelyback up Dorell Wright. But its no secret that Wright has struggled at timesthis year, and that coach Mark Jackson has kept him on the bench for longstretches.If Jefferson comes in and catchesJacksons eye, its very possible we could have some competition for theWarriors small forward spot.Lee vs. Udoh:Warriors power forward David Lee and Ekpe Udoh, his former teammate,went up against each other a lot at practice over the past two seasons. Theyrelikely to be matched up occasionally on Friday.Lee is more of an offensive player, andUdoh is more of a defensive player, which should make for a nice littlegame-within-a-game.

Kerr befuddled by Barkley's criticism of Warriors: 'I think he goes overboard'

Kerr befuddled by Barkley's criticism of Warriors: 'I think he goes overboard'

As Charles Barkley continues to throw rubber darts at the Warriors, disparaging their style of play at every opportunity, sometimes going out of his way to do so, the Warriors continue to shrug them off.

They believe the only significant response to Barkley or any other critic is by producing successful results.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has known Barkley for years and he basically sees his act as perfect made-for-TV moments.

“Having worked with Charles in TV, for TNT, I understand that there’s a show that has to happen,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “There’s an entertainment value that he brings that nobody else can bring. I think Charles is hilarious. He’s really good at what he does.”

Yet Kerr is at least slightly puzzled when Barkley constantly singles out the Warriors for being a “jump-shooting team” or playing “little girly basketball,” as he said Thursday on TNT.

“I think he goes overboard with his criticism of us,” Kerr said. “Everybody is the league is basically doing what we’re doing. Cleveland takes more 3s than we do. They beat us last year in The Finals by going small and shooting 3s and LeBron (James) playing the 4. The series came down to Kyrie (Irving) making a 3.”

It’s apparent to those paying attention that Barkley, who retired in 2000, has not made the observational transition to basketball as it is played in 2016.

The Warriors average 32.2 3-pointers per game, behind the Rockets (37.0) and defending champion Cavaliers (34.8). Only one team, the Pistons, at 19.8, averages less than 20 shots beyond the arc per game.

When Barkley retired in 2000, only the Kings, at 20.2, averaged more than 20 3-pointers per game. The Rockets were second, at 19.8, and Barkley was a member of that team.

“This is just the way the game is played these days: spread the floor, very few low-post plays,” Kerr said. “The game has changed a lot. I don’t know why Charles continues to crush us. But the game’s changed, and almost everybody is playing like this now.”

Whereas the big men of yesteryear – Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson etc. – tended to operate in the low post, those of today are more likely to venture out beyond the elbow, and even the arc.

“The big guys that you see now who are coming into the league, the best players, guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, they’re out there shooting jump shots, because they grew up handling the ball,” Kerr said. “They grew up as guys who wanted to be Kevin Durant, and not Charles Oakley.”

Though some of the transition is due to bigger players being more versatile, it’s also a matter of coaches understanding new rules and finding rosters that can exploit them. Gone is the hand-check, as well as the days of zone defenses being illegal.

“We do what we need to do to be successful,” Kerr said. “. . . Our players are suited to play the way we play, and we’re not going to apologize for that. But we know that criticism and judgment are just part of the deal. It really doesn’t bother us.”

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

There were days and nights when he was in agony, when no medication – and he tried many – could stop the headaches from corroding his mere existence.

So Steve Kerr tried something once considered radical.

The Warriors coach sought relief in weed.

“I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast.

“(After) a lot of research, a lot of advice from people and I have no idea if maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA.”

During the summer of 2015, Kerr underwent two surgeries on his back, the latter procedure in part to alleviate the pain from the first. Still, the pain continued. He arrived at training camp to coach the defending champions and two days later realized he was not up to the grind.

Kerr, now 51, took a leave of absence that lasted nearly four months, during which time he sought comfort through various painkillers and treatments.

He returned to coaching in January 2016, but it was during his absence from the team that he reached the same conclusion as many medical professionals.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr said. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

Vicodin (hydrocodone) and other pain relievers come with side effects – including nausea, vomiting, constipation and blurred vision – that can be even more damaging to the body. Moreover, painkillers invite the risk of addiction that, for some, can lead directly to death.

“I know enough, especially over the last couple years, having gone through my own bout with chronic pain, I know enough about this stuff – Vicodin is not good for you,” said Kerr, who still has experiences discomfort. “It’s way worse for you than pot, especially if you’re looking for a painkiller and you’re talking about medicinal marijuana, the different strains what they’re able to do with it as a pain reliever.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before the NBA and NFL and Major League Baseball realize that.”

Marijuana has been legalized in some form by 26 states and the District of Columbia. It has been used to treat patients suffering from chronic or acute pain. Yet it remains stigmatized in certain segments of American society.

“There’s this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine, but pot is bad,” Kerr said, explaining that some folks continue to resist the notion that pot is somehow more treacherous than, say, alcohol, while others have studied the subject and become advocates.

“I would hope,” Kerr said, “especially for these NFL guys, who are basically involved in a car wreck every Sunday – and maybe four days later, the following Thursday, which is another insane thing the NFL does – I would hope that league will come to its senses and institute a different sort of program where they can help these guys get healthier rather than getting hooked on these painkillers.”