The mailmans been gone You criticized fans rooting for tanking (akaplayer development). What do you suggest we root for instead? 10th or 9th?Chris, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I dont believe I criticized fans whowant the team to lose. My main point was that the whole thing is weak, from thegames having little to no consequence, to fans rooting against the team, to theforsaking of this season with the promise of gold next year.I also think there may be an unrealistic expectation of thekind of player the Warriors could end up with in the 2012 draft assuming, ofcourse, they keep their pick.If after the lottery the Warriors wind up with the No. 1pick through the No. 7 pick, they will keep it. If they end up with the No. 8pick or worse, it goes to Utah.The way the Warriors are going, they very well may end upkeeping their pick, which is still likely to be in the No. 5 through No. 7range. But the list of difference-makers doesnt run that deep.Once you get past the top two or three picks, depending,there doesnt seem to be an immediate impact player available. That doesntmean the Warriors might not get a solid player there. But as far as making theplayoffs next year, its doubtful the player they draft will affect thatsignificantly.I can understand why some fans might want the team to lose,thereby increasing the likelihood of the Warriors getting to keep their pick.And not only that, increasing the likelihood that the pick could getbetter.But its still all just a roll of the dice, and in themeantime this season was thrown away.And the reality is much of next season will depend on thehealth of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, two players who will be coming offseason-ending injuries.Can the Warriors be better next year, maybe even make theplayoffs? Yes, that can happen. But its also very possible that next yearisnt a playoff season and the fans were sold a bill of goods that it wouldbe.Since you've clearly shown your lack of confidencein any pick after the first few, what type of player are you looking for?--Luie,Oakland.Steinmetz: I think the Warriors still have toaddress a few issues. First, I think they need a backup guard, and probably morespecifically a point guard.The backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is youngand inconsistent. The Warriors are going to have to find a little morestability back there, and it would help if they could acquire a legitimatepoint guard so they could move Curry to the two guard when necessary.In any event, its unrealistic to believe Curry and Thompsonwill each play 35-plus minutes.The Warriors are also going to need a competent backup atthe fourfive position. David Lee and Andrew Bogut might form a nice frontcourttandem, but they need a defensive-minded big man and it would really help ifthat player were athletic.And speaking of athleticism, the Warriors are going to needmore of it. If you look at their starting five Curry, Thompson, Wright, Leeand Bogut its missing athleticism and thats going to have to beaddressed.Do you see any takers for Andris Biedrins andRichard Jefferson? We could use another ball rack. --Michael, Niagara Falls,Ontario.Steinmetz: Not sure why you would lump those twoplayers together, but theyre at different levels right now. I can certainlyunderstand if the fans have no hope anymore for Biedrins.The bottom line is he simply cant be counted on to provideanything positive moving forward. Can the Warriors move him? Only if hes partof a bigger package and keep in mind if hes included than the package is worsethan if he werent included.As for Jefferson, I think there is a very good chance hesthe starting small forward next season. It just doesnt seem like Mark Jacksonis a huge Dorell Wright fan.Jefferson isnt the athlete he once was, but he still canpitch in.What does Dorell Wright do other than shooting 3's(debatable), to deserve more minutes than Dominic McGuire?--Paul, Parts Unknown.Steinmetz: Wright is a more well-rounded playerthan McGuire, but that doesnt mean Wright has had a good season. Wrightaveraged 16 points per game last season, a number McGuire could neveraverage.Now, McGuire is a better defender, no doubt. But McGuire ismore of a specialist in my book.
LOS ANGELES – On the scale of NBA regular-season epic, Warriors-Clippers on Wednesday night rates a solid 8 for the Warriors. It’s circled on the desk calendars in pencil, a game they want for development and vanity.
For the Clippers, though, it’s a 9.5. Might be a 10. It’s stamped on the calendars embedded in their minds.
They need this game, psychologically, to prove they can stand up to the team that has spent the past two seasons winning a championship and setting a record for regular-season wins, simultaneously suppressing the notion of the Clippers being legitimately elite.
Los Angeles also needs to win the clash at Staples Center if these Western Conference titans are to reignite what once was the hottest rivalry in the NBA.
“We get to see what they do; they get to see what we do,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.
“It’s a new four-game journey against this team,” guard Stephen Curry says. “We have history that, when you play in the division, year after year, we’re fighting for the same goal of not only winning the division but playoff seeding and coming out of the west. It’s been a nice little back and forth.”
It has been mostly forward for the Warriors, generally backward for the Clippers.
A rivalry is defined somewhat by geography but mostly by hostilities over both the regular season and the postseason. In the very best rivalries, the teams are hunting the same bounty and end up exchanging feelings of ecstasy and heartbreak.
That has been missing the past two seasons, with the Warriors winning seven of the eight games and the last six in a row. It has been Curry over Chris Paul, Draymond Green over Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson over J.J. Redick and Kerr over Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
The contempt that began percolating back in 2012, reaching its apex in 2014 during a spellbinding seven-game playoff series won by LA, has been submerged by this wave of Warriors success.
The “rivalry” has declined considerably, leaving nothing but memories of the days when the teams were striving to reach the same level.
“We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs,” Klay Thompson says. “They were trying to do the same thing, as far as trying to make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven’t lost it. They’re still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that. And so are we.”
Curry traces the origin of the rivalry to Paul’s arrival in December 2011. The decorated point guard brought instant credibility to a franchise that had been every bit as much of a laughingstock as had the Warriors.
“When CP got there and the organization took a different turn, for the better obviously,” Curry recalls. “It was probably that first year we both made the playoffs (2012-13) because the records were a lot better than they usually were and there was a little more excitement around the new and up-and-coming teams.”
Games have featured ejections, multiple technical fouls – once in a preseason game – with an overdose of grabbing and posturing. One beef went postgame, nearly becoming physical in a hallway near the locker rooms.
There has been verbal warfare, sarcasm and slights and insults, though most of it lately has come from LA.
With the Warriors at 18-3 and the Clippers at 16-6, this may be the last season to reignite the conflict, and the first of four meetings will provide a sense of placement. The Warriors are 18-3, having won 14 of their last 15. The Clippers are 16-6, having lost four of their last six.
“It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” Kerr says.
The Clippers, however, showed up for this season with a sense of urgency. Paul and Griffin both have opt-out clauses and will be free agents in July. The perennial All-Stars have been teammates for five-plus seasons, but this may be the last.
“Their continuity is really key; it’s one of the things that has helped us the last couple years,” Kerr says. “When you have basically the same team for a while, and you’re already a good team, you tend to get better. You tend to grow more and more comfortable with what you’re already doing and then, maybe even have the ability to add on some things.”
So maybe it’ll be different this season. Maybe we’ll have actual back-and-forth.
“They could be a team down the road that we need to get through to get where we want to go, and they probably see us the same way,” Curry says.
Oh, there is no doubt about that, certainly not among the Clippers.
On Monday night, Klay Thompson joined Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Fulks as the only players in Warriors history to score 60+ points in a game.
A day later, Barry offered his thoughts on Thompson's 29-minute performance in an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio:
"That's pretty amazing. He's one of the most explosive players in the game. Obviously a 37-point quarter, that he had, is phenominal. This is another amazing performance on his part. But he's capable of doing that.
And it just shows you what kind of team the Warriors are. Somebody's going good, they're going to get the basketball. Steph doesn't take that many shots, Klay is going good, so you milk him. Just an amazing performance on his part and the Warriors with all the assists they had, that's the way you play the game of basketball, that's what makes it fun for everybody and it's the old adage: you get a guy going good, you milk him and the Warriors do that. Not every team does that. You watch college basketball, a guy is going hot, doing well and the next thing you know, he's on the bench and the guys aren't going to him and it makes no sense whatsoever. That's why I love watching the Warriors."
Barry compared Thompson's shooting touch to that of Steph Curry.
"Klay is just an amazing player. People talk about the quickness of Steph shooting the basketball. I tell them 'Look, I think Klay may even be the quicker shooter than Steph Curry.' And when he's going, and he's got the size going for him which is even better than what Steph has, he's virtually unstoppable. And the only way to stop him, like the opposing coach said, you got to try to keep the ball out of his hands."
Barry eclipsed 60 points on March 26, 1974 when he scored 64 points against Portland. But the NBA Hall of Famer did it before the addition of the 3-point line. He made 30 field goals and four free throws.