Warriors

Legitimate tests await Warriors in Oklahoma City, Dallas

Legitimate tests await Warriors in Oklahoma City, Dallas

The Warriors left town Sunday grateful they had rediscovered the impact and importance of defense.

Maybe they’re back to being the team favored to win the NBA Finals. Maybe.

There can be no certainty before Monday night, when the Warriors enter the ear-splitting cave called Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With the exception of the opening minutes of their rout of the Bucks on Saturday night, the Warriors over the last three games played nine impressive quarters during which their defense was by turns effective to devastating.

“That’s kind of what we’ve been talking about this entire time,” Draymond Green said. “We have to get into a groove defensively and everything else will take care of itself after that.”

Those wins, however, were against the 76ers, the Magic and the Bucks. Philadelphia and Orlando are light years away from contending in the Eastern Conference, and Milwaukee is fighting like hell in hopes of simply getting in.

The Sixers gave the Warriors fits for three quarters, taking a 12-point lead into the fourth before Green whacked his teammates awake with his defense and led them to the comeback victory.

Orlando is abominable, surrendering 21 turnovers -- for 36 points -- that were as much about its sloppiness than it was the Warriors defense.

The Bucks were on the second night of a back-to-back, following an emotionally charged victory over the Lakers the previous night in Los Angeles.

These victories were somewhat preordained and may be fool’s gold. Indeed, whether the Warriors have completed the mental and physical adjustments required to beat quality teams without Kevin Durant remains uncertain.

The Warriors often talk about how “defense travels.” Neither the defense nor the offense went with them on their last road trip, the most treacherous of the season. If they bring it this time, they’ll be fine against Russell Westbrook and Co., as well as against the Mavericks on Tuesday night in Dallas.

“I’m actually going to show them a map, show them how close it is from Oklahoma City to Dallas, so we shouldn’t be intimidated by the geography,” Kerr said, referring to the roughly 205-mile distance.

Fatigue, as well as the time needed to absorb the jolt of losing Durant, surely played a factor in the poor performances earlier this month. The fatigue surely faded with a week at home, playing every other day. And much of the bold self-assurance lost with Durant’s absence can be regained if Curry starts cooking, as he was Saturday.

Having Durant with them on the road also should provide an emotional lift.

That’s the intrigue of these next two days, for they are consequential enough, particularly the game against the Thunder, to tell us where the Warriors stand as they enter the final 22 days of the regular season.

At the point of the season when most every team is scrambling, OKC’s five-game win streak is the longest currently active. Westbrook is on a mission and he’ll want to make a statement against the team he considers his primary nemesis.

The Warriors, based on their work last week, believe they’ll be ready.

“It’s a direct reflection of our defense,” Curry said.

“We’re getting into the open court a lot more,” he added. “The morale is better when you’re not taking the ball out of the basket every possession. For the most part, we’ve done a good job of staying away from fouling too much so we can keep the pace of the game up. We’re being a lot smarter with the ball and taking care of it when we do have half-court opportunities to find an open guy, keep the ball moving, create flow. And we obviously have to knock down open shots when we get them.”

Sounds good. Worked well, too. But this Warriors recovery won’t feel complete unless the defense make trip to Oklahoma and Texas.

Kevin Durant: 'Whoever did this should be fired and thrown in jail'

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AP

Kevin Durant: 'Whoever did this should be fired and thrown in jail'

There are some people out there who are still extremely bitter about Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.

An eighth grade Spanish teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma issued a handout on the first day of school.

Part of it read:

DON'T BE A ... Kevin Durant
KD left the OKC Thunder last summer after falling to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Following the end of the season, he decided it was in his best interest to join the very same team that had just knocked him out of the playoffs. Don't be like KD. Don't take the easy way out. Things like cheating, plagiarizing, and copying your friends homework may not seem like a big deal now but they are building habits that can significantly hinder you later in life. Additionally, always strive to finish what you've started. Half-finished homework is unfinished homework. Don't try to turn in an assignment if you have not done what is necessary and expected.

DO BE A ... Michael Jordan
MJ! The GOAT! 6 championships, 4 MVPs. Yadda yadda. The greatest thing this man ever did? Saving the Looney Tunes from a lifetime of servitude to an alien race. Did MJ take the easy way out? Did he ever back down from a challenge? NO! Be like Mike. Learning a new language is a challenging thing and parts of this year are going to be...

And then the words get cut off.

Well, Kevin Durant got wind of this and responded on Twitter:

If anything happens to this teacher, we will let you know...

Andre Iguodala falls short in 'Best off the Bench' award

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USATI

Andre Iguodala falls short in 'Best off the Bench' award

According to NBA players, Andre Iguodala is not the best sixth man in the league.

On Friday morning, Lou Williams was recognized as the "Best off the Bench" player.

At the inaugural NBA Awards Show in late June, Iguodala finished runner-up in the Sixth Man of the Year race to Rockets guard Eric Gordon.

Iguodala received 43 first-place votes, 34 second-place votes and nine third-place votes.

Gordon registered 46 first-place votes, 40 second-place votes and eight third-place votes.

Williams was a very distant third with five third-place votes, 10 second-place votes and 15 third-place votes.

He averaged 18.6 points and 3.2 assists over 58 games with the Lakers last season, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from deep.

In 23 regular season games with the Rockets, Williams averaged 14.9 points and 2.4 assists on 38.6 percent shooting overall and just below 32 percent from 3-point territory.

Against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, Williams struggled to the tune of 7.3 points per game. He shot 35 percent from the floor and below 18 percent from distance.

Iguodala played arguably his best game of the season in Game 5 of the NBA Finals -- 20 points (9 for 14 FG), four rebounds and three assists.

For the series, his +60 mark led the Warriors by a comfortable margin (Draymond Green +30, Kevin Durant +33, Steph Curry +30, Klay Thompson +22).

Iguodala was rewarded with a 3-year, $48 million contract this summer.

I doubt he cares whatsoever about falling short for this award...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller