Warriors-Pacers: What to watch for


Warriors-Pacers: What to watch for

With All-Star Weekend complete, the Warriors begin thesecond half of their season on Tuesday with a game against the Pacers inIndianapolis. This is Game 1 of a five-game road trip for the Warriors (13-17),who are three games behind eighth-seeded Portland in the Western Conferenceplayoff race.The Pacers have won four consecutive games and are currentlythe No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 21-12. The Pacersdefeated the Warriors earlier this season 94-91 at Oracle Arena, a game inwhich Monta Ellis turned the ball over in the final seconds, leading to agame-winning three-point play by George Hill.Indiana has beaten the Warriors nine of the past 10 games inIndianapolis.Here are some things to watch for during Tuesdays game:

Curry out: Warriors point guardStephen Curry strained a tendon in his right foot against the Phoenix Suns onWednesday and, after initially being ruled a game-time decision, will not play. Rookie Charles Jenkins will make his first career NBA start in place of Curry.
Curry did not practice on Monday night and didntgo through shootaround with the team on Tuesday morning.

Curry already has missednine games this season, and during those times, Jenkins hasgotten the start.Its not like everything is a lost cause when Curry doesntplay: The Warriors actually have a better winning percentage in games Currymisses (4-5) than in games he plays in (9-12).Limit turnovers: In the past two gamesagainst the L.A. Clippers and Phoenix Suns both wins the Warriors turnedthe ball over just nine times and 10 times, respectively.The last time the Warriors played the Pacers, Golden Statecommitted 18 turnovers, which led to 22 points. Of course, there was noturnover more critical than Ellis in the waning seconds with the gametied.Guard Granger: Pacers small forward DannyGranger has been a Warriors-killer over the years. He had 26 points in theteams first meeting this season, but thats only a small picture of what hesdone to Golden State.In seven games against the Warriors since the start of the2008-09 season, Granger is averaging 31.6 points, his highest average againstany opponent. Dorell Wright will likely get the first crack at Granger, butexpect Jackson to use Dominic McGuire on him attimes.Ellis continues stretch: Warriorsshooting guard Monta Ellis is averaging 30.3 points and shooting 47.6 percentover the past three games, and the Warriors will need more where that came from particularly if Curry isnt able to play.

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.