Expect Warriors to go small early in season

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Expect Warriors to go small early in season

Programming alert: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area kicks off the 2013 season with Warriors-Suns preseason hoops, kicking off with 'Warriors Season Preview' at 6:30 p.m., followed by tip-off tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

The Warriors conclude their preseason with games tonightagainst the L.A. Clippers in Los Angeles and then Tuesday night against thePhoenix Suns at Oracle.They open the regular season on Oct. 31 in Phoenix againstthe Suns. Lets take a look at some issues as things begin to ramp up:Going small: With Andrew Boguts minuteslikely to be limited early in the season and Andris Biedrins still ineffectiveand nursing an injury, it seems apparent that coach Mark Jackson will rely heavily at least for the time being on a small lineup.NEWS: Curry, Bogut have ankles looked at in L.A.
Jackson has used David Lee and Carl Landry together atvarious times during the preseason and its tough to imagine that stoppinganytime soon. Festus Ezeli will likely start at center until Bogut is ready,but its not like Ezeli will log heavy minutes.Hes foul prone, and once he gets into foul trouble, Jacksonhas been using Lee and Landry together. While those two power forwards form anice offensive frontcourt, they leave something to be desired at the other endof the floor.Neither Lee nor Landry is big enough or strong enough todefend centers on a consistent basis and neither excels at shot-blocking. Inaddition, when the Warriors play Lee and Landry together, they sometimes tendto get overwhelmed in the rebounding department.Jackson might not have a ton of options at center the waythings are right now, but its tough to see the tandem of Lee and Landry beingsuccessful on a consistent basis.Small forward spot: As of late last week,Jackson said he hadnt decided whether to start rookie Harrison Barnes orBrandon Rush at small forward.Jackson has downplayed the importance of which playerstarts, making a point to stress that both Barnes and Rush are both going toget plenty of playing time.And they will.But after six preseason games, youd have to say that Rushhas played better than Barnes thus far. So, well see which direction Jacksongoes in as the first game nears.Curry extension: The Warriors and Stephen Currydecided to table contract extension talks until the preseason is over whichis in two days. The thinking was that both sides would better be able to make adetermination on that contract once Curry got some games under hisbelt.Now, with Curry being held out of the last two preseasongames, his contract situation would seem to be more uncertain.RELATED: Curry rolls ankle, tweets message at Warriors fansThe deadline for the Warriors to extend Curry is Oct. 31,which means hed have to get one before the regular-season begins. Tough to seethat happening now with so much uncertainty about Currys ankle.Curry, who missed 40 of 66 games last season with ankleissues, tweaked the injury again on Friday, although Curry downplayed theinjury and said he could have returned to action that night.

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

The Warriors are NBA Finals bound for the third straight year.

Following their Game 4 victory over the Spurs on Monday night, Pau Gasol opened up about the Western Conference champions.

“They’re in a groove,” Gasol told Courtney Cronin of the Bay Area News Group. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

Gasol entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

He won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.

Their average margin of victory in the playoffs is 16.3 points.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.