Blazers-Warriors: What to watch for

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Blazers-Warriors: What to watch for

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7:00, followed by the Warriors-Blazers at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10:00 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The Warriors are coming off two difficult home losses toIndiana and Memphis and should be hungry for a win. The Blazers are playingtheir third game in three nights, a good, old-fashionedback-to-back-to-back.While the season is only a quarter old, it feels as if theWarriors are at a little bit of a crossroads. Theyre in Game 3 of a six-gamehomestand and need to get moving if their goal is to have a successfulseason.Here are some things to watch for:Sense of desperation: After what has happened in the pasttwo games, look for the Warriors to come out and try to be the aggressors fromthe get-go. Warriors coach Mark Jackson seemed as upset with his teams effortlevel as he did with their failure to execute late in the Memphis game.With the Warriors at 5-11 and things seemingly spiralingdownhill some, the team needs a win, plain and simple. If Golden State isntnoticeably playing very hard, then something is wrong.Making progress or not: Its no secretthe Warriors have failed consistently in late-game situations this season. Theball has been in Monta Ellis hands for most of the times the Warriors havebeen in that situation, but Jackson said recently hes not married to thatnotion.Whatever Jackson decides to do during important possessions,its time for the Warriors to show improvement when it comes to closing outgames. If the game against Portland is close down the stretch, its time tolook for a different result out of the Warriors.Defending Aldridge: LaMarcus Aldridge hasturned into one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He can post up smallerdefenders and he can consistently knock down perimeter jumpers when guarded bybigger men.Issue is that Portand is sound enough around Aldridge thatyou cant consistently devote two defenders to him or hell make you pay. Allin all, Aldridge is a tough matchup for Golden State.Take care of the ball: The one area wherethe Warriors could show improvement immediately is to take care of the ballbetter. They committed a season-high 24 turnovers against Memphis, includingnine in the fourth quarter.Its not too soon to clean that up and there has never beena better time for Ellis, Stephen Curry and the rest of the team to show that theyrealize valuing the ball is important.

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.