Fast Forward: Warriors try to regain momentum vs. Cavs

Fast Forward: Warriors try to regain momentum vs. Cavs
March 14, 2014, 1:15 pm
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Harrison Barnes will likely get the start with Klay Thompson in the Bahamas attending his grandfather's funeral. (USATSI)

KEYS TO THE GAME:

1) Contain Kyrie. The Cavs don't often win, but Irving is the catalyst when they do.

2) Run, run, run. The Cavs play reasonably good defense, particularly in the halfcourt game.

3) Backups back up. After a poor performance against the Clippers, Warriors reserves production to offset Thompson's absence.

Programming note: Warriors-Cavaliers coverage tips off tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territory restrictions apply)

OAKLAND – Coming off a highly emotional loss that snapped their five-game win streak, the Warriors on Friday will collect themselves in hopes of starting another roll.

They'll do so without shooting guard Klay Thompson, whose streak of 214 consecutive games played will end, as he's in the Bahamas to attend funeral services for his paternal grandfather, Dewitt Thompson, who recently died at age 94.

[RELATED: Thompson to miss Cavs game due to grandfather's funeral]

For the Warriors, this means Harrison Barnes will move into the starting lineup, likely at small forward for Andre Iguodala, who would then shift to shooting guard alongside point guard Stephen Curry.

The bigger issue for the Warriors, as they face sub-mediocre Cleveland on Friday at Oracle Arena, might be recapturing the intensity that pushed them to win 10 of their first 12 games after the All-Star break.

That edge, sharpened as the Warriors sprint toward the postseason, surely spiked in a 111-98 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.

"This one loss isn't going to stop us from continuing that momentum, that rhythm, and we'll be looking forward to Friday,'' Curry said.

The Warriors (41-25) will be at home for six of their next seven games. Aside from a trip to Portland on Sunday, their next road game is not until April 1.

"Now it's about regrouping and putting together another run,'' coach Mark Jackson said.

Though the Cavaliers (25-40) don't pose much of a threat on the surface, the Warriors needed overtime to beat them back in December. Since then, Cleveland has added forward Luol Deng and center Spencer Hawes. And former Warriors guard Jarrett Jack has moved into the starting lineup alongside star guard Kyrie Irving.

So the quest for the Warriors will be to summon the enthusiasm so evident in the previous 13 games. With 16 games remaining, the playoffs are on the horizon – impossible to ignore – but getting back into the habit of winning is crucial.

[RELATED: O'Neal addresses beef with Clippers' Griffin]

"I'm pretty excited about the opportunity,'' center Jermaine O'Neal said of the upcoming playoff possibilities, "but we've just got to deal with that when we get the opportunity to play in the playoffs. We've got to handle our business. Starting tonight, we've got to get back to winning.''

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Curry vs Irving. With Thompson away, Curry will be at least partially responsible for one of the most explosive players in the league. Though primary responsibility could fall to Andre Iguodala, there is no question the point guards will determine the direction of this game.

Barnes vs. Deng. Barnes, expected to start in place of Thompson, indicated Friday morning he would spend some time defending former teammate Jarrett Jack. More likely, HB also will get a crack at Deng, the talented small forward acquired from the Bulls in January.

INJURY REPORT
For the Warriors, G Klay Thompson (death in family) is out. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) is out.

For the Cavaliers, G C. J. Miles (left ankle sprain) is day to day. F Anthony Bennett (left patellar tendon strain) and G Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture) are out.

LAST 10
Warriors 7-3, Cavaliers 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY
The Warriors won the first meeting, 108-104 in overtime, on Dec. 29 in Cleveland. The Warriors have won six in a row over the Cavaliers, by 10 or more points in five of those victories. The Warriors have not lost a season series to Cleveland since 2009-10.

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