With Durant, other Warriors out, Golden State is suddenly in a bind

With Durant, other Warriors out, Golden State is suddenly in a bind

OAKLAND -- There was legitimate concern during the regular season that the day could come when the Warriors would pay a price for having a roster extra deep in big men and extra light elsewhere.

That day arrived Wednesday as the Warriors prepared for Game 2 of their first-round series against Portland.

Starting forward Kevin Durant was ruled out, as was Matt Barnes, the swing forward signed when Durant was injured four months into the regular season. Also sitting is Shaun Livingston, a backup point guard with the physical radius of a forward.

It’s not that the Warriors can’t survive this. But the existing challenges now loom larger. Suddenly, a team that built an elite defense mostly on the arms and chemistry of similar-size players switching off picks is thin on required parts.

“It changes everything, really,” coach Steve Kerr said in his pregame news conference.

Of the 11 Warriors available, three are strictly centers and three more are power forwards who spend considerable time at center.

That leaves five players to man both guard spots and small forward: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Ian Clark, Andre Iguodala and rookie Pat McCaw.

“We’re pretty thin,” Kerr conceded. “And with KD out those six weeks, we basically had a full roster, for the most part. We picked up Matt Barnes and once we got settled, we played pretty well. But we had a lot of depth to rely on. Tonight we’ll be pretty thin. So we’ll have to figure out a way.”

You may recall the Warriors reached agreement with veteran point guard Jose Calderon two days before Durant went down on Feb. 28. Durant’s injury forced an adjustment, with the team honoring its commitment to Calderon and then immediately releasing him to sign Barnes.

With Durant, Livingston and Barnes all sitting for Game 2, the defense is certain to be compromised. They Warriors may play big more often than usual.

“We talked about it a lot the last couple days,” Kerr said. “It complicates things. But it’s just the reality of the NBA. You just adapt and, hopefully, come up with a good plan. And the players go out there and compete and play well.”

Kerr indicated that this will be a short-term problem, saying that it’s possible Durant, Livingston and Barnes could all be ready to play Game 3 Saturday at Portland.

“I think everybody is healing, and on the right path,” Kerr said. “But none of them was ready to play tonight. We still have lots of good players. We’re lucky. We’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve won plenty of games the last couple years with guys down, and that’s the plan tonight.”

The Warriors, to a man, expressed confidence that the available players can provide enough to give them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Maybe they can.

But they’ll have to do it while crossing their fingers and hoping the five “smalls” can get them to at least Game 3.

 

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.