2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

621424.jpg

2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

It will be very simple to evaluate the coaching job that Mark Jackson does with the Warriors this season.Very simple, indeed.Jackson has virtually the same group of core players that coach Keith Smart had a year ago when the Warriors went 36-46. That was a 10-game improvement over the previous season 2009-10 -- which wasnt a bad little bounce.Still, owner Joe Lacob thought the Warriors needed to get better in the coaching department and so he hired Jackson, a man with no experience, but plenty of confidence.Jackson promised the playoffs on the day he was hired, backing up a guarantee Lacob already had made to Warriors season-ticket holders. That will be quite a challenge considering Jackson will trot out the same starting five on opening night assuming Stephen Curry is ready to go -- that Smart had the previous season.So, can Jackson get more out of Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andris Biedrins than Smart? Well, thats the big question.Jackson may have a slightly better bench than Smart had last season, but thats also open to interpretation. This season, the Warriors will rely heavily on rookie Klay Thompson, veteran center Kwame Brown and second-year power forward Ekpe Udoh.Last season Smart rode with Reggie Williams, Vladimir Radmanovic, Acie Law and Lou Amundson for stretches.None of that matters to Jackson, who doubled down on his prediction earlier this week.Im not changing, Jackson said. We will be a playoff team. Thats not going to change.For that to happen, the Warriors, who finished 12th in the Western Conference a year ago, will need to leapfrog four teams and make sure that no team that finished behind them a year ago jumps over them such as the greatly improved L.A. Clippers.The only way that happens is if Jackson can somehow turn a team very similar to the one Smart coached into a solid defensive team. Jackson has been matter-of-fact about that happening, but its only fair to be skeptical.One man who is not skeptical is Lacob, who said he believes in Jackson and his staff on a recent Chronicle Live show.Said Lacob: We have a better coaching staff, top to bottom (than last year)." In truth, that remains to be seen. But well sure know if its true by the end of the season.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN- Andris Biedrins, C, 7-0, 240: Full rebound from Biedrins unlikely but he should bounce back some- Kwame Brown, C, 6-11, 270: He will help, no doubt, but hell be frustrating at times, too- Stephen Curry, PG, 6-3, 186: Its difficult not to be concerned with Currys ankle issues- Monta Ellis, SG, 6-3, 185: Ellis task in 2011-12: Become a more well-rounded player- Charles Jenkins, PG, 6-3, 220: Hes had a solid training camp, but can Jenkins keep it up when regular season begins?- David Lee, PF, 6-9, 240: Like Ellis, Lee must sacrifice some for the good of the team- Dominic McGuire, SF, 6-9, 236: Tough wing defender who can play some power forward if Warriors go small- Brandon Rush, SG, 6-6, 225: The more Rush plays the more likely it is that rookie Klay Thompson is struggling- Ish Smith, PG, 6-0, 175: You could make a case Smith is the only true point guard on the roster- Klay Thompson, SG, 6-7, 205: Outside of not shooting well, Thompson showing ability to do other things- Jeremy Tyler, PF, 6-10, 260: May be more beneficial for Tyler to play for Dakota Wizards, where he can get playing time- Ekpe Udoh, PF, 6-10, 245: He seems like the Warrior most poised to take game to next level- Chris Wright, PF, 6-8, 226: Warriors like his work ethic and athleticism, but hell likely play mostly in D-League- Dorell Wright, SF, 6-9, 205: Hes had a quiet preseason but is important piece if Warriors are to be successful

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

OAKLAND -- Amid the recovery mission that followed the absence of Kevin Durant, as every Warrior eventually pitched in, Shaun Livingston stood virtually alone as someone who wasn’t doing his part.

The Warriors, and Livingston, would like to believe that is about to change.

When Livingston made 3-of-4 shots in a 112-87 rout of the Mavericks on Tuesday night, it was the first time he shot higher than 50 percent on multiple shots since Feb. 28, the day Durant went down with a knee injury.

“You go through slumps,” Livingston said after practice Thursday. “Fortunately for me, I’ve played long enough to know. You keep shooting. Keep pushing forward, good things will happen.”

As the Warriors lost that game at Washington, and four of the next six, Livingston’s usually reliable midrange game disappeared. In the first 10 full games since Durant was sidelined, Livingston shot 18.8 percent (6-of-32).

So his teammates did the heavy lifting. Andre Iguodala excelled as the steady vet. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green dipped and then came hard. Stephen Curry climbed out of his rut and started dancing again. The big men -- Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and David West -- were titanic. Pat McCaw, Ian Clark, Matt Barnes and James Michael McAdoo filled in the gaps.

They had to, because Livingston the most reliable shooter on the team was nowhere to be found.

“We all want to play the best that we can,” Livingston said. “But the reality is it doesn’t work that way all the time.”

On Tuesday, for the first time this month, Livingston looked like himself. He was the guy who shot 55.6 percent in October, 54.4 percent in November, 57.6 percent in December, 58.9 percent in January and 54.1 percent in February.

“It was good for Shaun to see the ball go in the rim,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had such a great year shooting the ball, and then the last couple weeks he hit a dry spell. Which is going to happen to everybody.”

The “dry spell” was shocking, because it was Livingston. He’s in the final weeks of his third season with the Warriors, and throughout that time there was only one month in which he shot less that 49 percent (47.5 in March 2015). Signed in July 2014 to be the team’s No. 3 guard and primary backup to Curry, Livingston is shooting 51.9 percent in his Warriors career.

The Warriors would like to think he’s ready, once again, to do his part.

“Last game was good for him, just to make a few and see the ball go in,” Kerr said. “I’m confident he’ll get it going.”

Warriors forward Matt Barnes 'trying to kill' the Kings

Warriors forward Matt Barnes 'trying to kill' the Kings

The Kings waived Matt Barnes during the All-Star break.

Less than two weeks later, he signed with the Warriors.

On Friday, Barnes will square off against Sacramento at Oracle Arena.

"I'm trying to kill 'em," he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau on Thursday. "Simple."

In 54 games (13 starts) with the Kings this season, Barnes averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting just under 33 percent from deep.

His final game in a Sacramento uniform came against the Warriors on Feb. 15. He registered 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"Things didn't go well there," Barnes added. "They're the enemy now."