Fast Forward: One more hurdle for Warriors to clear in Boston

Warriors look to finish road trip 4-2 with win over Celtics

Fast Forward: One more hurdle for Warriors to clear in Boston
March 5, 2014, 11:30 am
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Those guys earned the right, overall, to win or lose the ballgame.
Mark Jackson on Warriors bench

SUBARU KEYS TO THE GAME:

1) Start fast. If the Warriors starters can build a good lead, the bench should be good enough to hold it
2) Keep it neat and clean. Take good care of the ball, avoiding the kind of sloppy play that could spark the Celtics
3) Sizzle. That's Jordan Crawford's nickname, and the ex-Celtic will get ample opportunity to fry his former teammates.

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage tips off Wednesday at 4 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

The Warriors' fourth and final extended road trip of the season concludes on Wednesday and their biggest challenge may be summoning 48 good minutes so quickly after 48 very good minutes only a day earlier.

For the Warriors (37-24) face not only the Celtics but also the fatigue that follows a 2 1/2-hour flight from Indianapolis that arrived in Boston in the wee hours.

Or maybe it's just one more hurdle to clear for the league's hottest road team. In 18 games away from their home floor since Dec. 23, the Warriors are 13-5, best road record in the NBA.

And with the bench showing tangible improvement, they could get even better. Four backups – Jermaine O'Neal, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Steve Blake – joined Klay Thompson in opening up a fourth-quarter lead in the 98-96 win over the Pacers on Tuesday.

[REWIND: Thompson delivers when Warriors need him most]

"We’re going to have to come together if we want a chance to win it all," O'Neal said. "Everybody is feeling more comfortable with the recent additions of Steve and Jordan (Crawford), and Harrison and Draymond are playing well also."

They were good enough Tuesday that coach Mark Jackson resisted the temptation to return to his starters, finally reinserting Curry and Iguodala in the final minutes.

"Those guys earned the right, overall, to win or lose the ballgame," Jackson said of his reserves.

After spending most of the season as the league's least productive bench, the Warriors have shown dramatic improvement over the past month. After averaging a league-low 22.9 points from October through January, the Warriors over the past five weeks are averaging 34.2.

That's mostly due to the return of O'Neal, the integration of Crawford and the addition of Blake.

The bench likely will play a key role again on Wednesday against the Celtics (20-40), who are 7-22 during this calendar year and clearly in rebuilding mode.


MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Andre Iguodala vs. Jeff Green: As usual, Iguodala will be assigned the most dangerous wing scorer. Green was effective at times in the previous meeting this season, with a team-high 24 points along with 11 rebounds. Andre offset that with team highs in points (22) and assists (eight) for the Warriors.

Stephen Curry vs. Rajon Rondo: It was Curry's jumper with 3.8 seconds left that provided the margin of victory in January. Rondo had not returned to the Boston lineup. The point guard is back, the only Celtic remaining from their 2008 championship team.

INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) is out.

For the Celtics, C Kelly Olynyk (sprained left big toe) returned to practice Tuesday and is questionable, G Avery Bradley (sprained right ankle) is doubtful. F Gerald Wallace (left knee/ankle surgery) and C Vitor Faverani (left knee injury) are out.

LAST 10: Warriors 7-3, Celtics 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors took a 99-97 victory on Jan. 10 but have lost five straight games in Boston, their last win at TD Garden coming on Dec. 20, 2006. The Warriors have lost four of the last six meetings overall, and last won the season series in 2006-07.