NBA Gameday: Draymond vs Saric the matchup to watch

NBA Gameday: Draymond vs Saric the matchup to watch

OAKLAND -- After losing three consecutive regular season games for the first time since coach Steve Kerr arrived in 2014, the Warriors on Tuesday night have a prime opportunity to get back to their winning ways.

They’re playing at Oracle Arena, where they are a league-best 26-4, and they’re facing the downtrodden, injury-depleted Philadelphia 76ers.

The Warriors (52-14), who are tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 overall seed, have been struggling ever since Kevin Durant sustained a knee injury on Feb. 28 at Washington, losing five of seven since.

The 76ers’ record (24-42) is deceptive insofar as they are 11-24 when Joel Embiid is out of the lineup, and he is done for the rest of the season. They have lost seven of their last nine, with the only wins coming over the lowly Lakers and Knicks.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 16.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green vs. Dario Saric: In the absence of Embiid, the 6-foot-10 Saric has emerged as Philly’s most consistently productive player. The 22-year-old Croatian forward is waging a second-half Rookie of the Year campaign, averaging 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds over his last 13 games. Green, who thrives on opportunities to teach lessons to talented youngsters, has been off his game lately and could use a stellar performance.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain) is listed as out.

76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (L wrist surgery), F Robert Covington (R knee soreness), C Joel Embiid (L knee injury), F Ben Simmons (R foot fracture) and F/C Tiago Splitter (R calf strain) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 5-5. 76ers: 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won the last seven games, including the first this season, 119-108 on Feb. 27 in Philadelphia. They haven’t lost to the Sixers at home since 2011.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE HUSTLE GAME: The Sixers may be undersized and talent-deficient, but they are well coached and they play hard. Which means they cannot be taken for granted. But if the Warriors are careful with the ball and can match Philly’s effort, they should prevail even with an ordinary shooting night.

TAKING OF GIFTS: Only the Nets commit more turnovers than the 76ers, which plays into the hands of the Warriors. They are at their best when forcing turnovers and turning them into transition offense. Expect defensive energy from the Warriors as they feed off the home crowd and try to create separation before halftime.

PLAY THE LANES: The 76ers, as demanded by coach Brett Brown, rely on constant movement. According to NBA.com, they actually lead the NBA in passes per game as well as overall miles per game (Yes, there is a stat for that). All that passing and movement provides more opportunity for steals by the Warriors, who lead the league in that category.

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

PORTLAND -- Steve Kerr was in such agony Saturday that he found little comfort even while watching from the team hotel as his Warriors pulled out a playoff victory over Trail Blazers, multiple sources told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

The pain is so intense that Kerr even had difficulty keeping up with the game. Moreover, it may be a while before he’s able to return to full-time coaching duties.

Assistant Mike Brown served as acting head coach in a 119-113 win over Portland in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.

“He’s obviously going through a lot physically,” Stephen Curry said of Kerr after the game, “and that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself.”

Kerr was in obvious discomfort Friday, when he met with the media for his post-practice news conference. Though he made the flight to Oregon with the team Friday afternoon, he was not able to attend shootaround Saturday morning. It was the second time this season that Kerr missed a shootaround, the first coming March 2 in Chicago.

By Saturday afternoon, the Warriors were announcing he would not coach Game 3.

It was not a great surprise to those who work closely with Kerr.

“He’s suffering,” said one person close to Kerr.

“He hadn’t been feeling well for a couple days, so I knew it would be a possibility,” Brown said before the game.

Kerr continues to cope with debilitating side effects from multiple back surgeries in the summer of 2015. He took a leave of absence last season, missing nearly all of training camp and the first 43 games of the regular season before returning.

Both the symptoms have persisted. Kerr still cannot do many of the things he loves, he acknowledged to NBCSportsBayArea.com, such as play golf. Though his back is somewhat improved, he still experiences severe headaches and neck pain.

The worst part about the discomfort is its consistency. It’s nagging at him every day and night, sometimes more severe than others.

It has gotten worse in recent days, though. It is conceivable, even likely, according to those close to Kerr, that he will miss Game 4 Monday night.

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

While head coach Steve Kerr was unable to make Saturday's Game 3 due to an illness, the Warriors went out and took a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. 

After the game, Steph Curry dedicated the win to Kerr by keeping the game ball for him. 

"Our coach is going through a lot right now physically and he told us this morning this is a situation where we need to rally and go out and win a game for him, but we felt like that," Curry said after the Warriors' 119-113 win. "The way that game had gone on we had to fight and do it for him. 

"The way that he said it was we had to win one for The Gipper, so shout out to coach Kerr." 

Curry led the Warriors with 34 points in Saturday's win.