NBA Gameday: With Klay out, McCaw should have big opportunity

NBA Gameday: With Klay out, McCaw should have big opportunity

Programming note: Warriors-Heat coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- In the midst of trying to solve late-game issues, the Warriors next get an opponent rarely good enough this season to experience crunch time.

Indications are the Miami Heat, who visit Oracle Arena Tuesday night, are more committed to the future than the present. Long gone are the “Heatles,” as team architect Pat Riley attempts a rebuild.

The Warriors have chosen to rest shooting guard Klay Thompson, who has been battling an illness for the past few days.

Though the Warriors (32-6) are coming off a win at Sacramento on Sunday, they continue to study the lessons of their last two losses, both of which came after they gave up double-digit leads in the fourth quarter.

Miami (11-28), making its fifth stop during a six-game road trip, has lost eight of its last nine.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 15.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Zaza Pachulia vs. Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside last season came out of nowhere to claim star status, signing a four-year, $98.4-million contract in July. He’s responding with a solid season and has become a force with which to be reckoned. Pachulia is playing well of late. He’ll have to bring it to keep Whiteside from owning the paint.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed.

Heat: F Udonis Haslem (respiratory illness) is questionable. G Josh Richardson (L foot sprain) is doubtful. F Justise Winslow (R shoulder surgery) is not with the team.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Heat: 2-8.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won the last four meetings, sweeping the series in each of the past two seasons, and seven of the last nine overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1) The Catalysts: Warriors PG Stephen Curry has boosted his offense recently, earning conference player of the week honors. His counterpart with the Heat, Goran Dragic, averaged 21.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in December. Curry has averaged 35.0 points in his last six games vs. Miami. This matchup could get hot.

2) Unleash The O: The Heat struggle to score, surpassing 100 points only twice over the past eight games. Miami is dead last in true shooting percentage and 29th in offensive rating. If ever there were a game in which the Warriors could simply outscore an opponent, this is it.

3) Call for McCaw: With Thompson out, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will start rookie Pat McCaw. He’ll spend time defending Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson and Dragic. This promises to be a good learning experience for the UNLV product.

Durant's future with the Warriors: 'I’m just in it for the long haul'

Durant's future with the Warriors: 'I’m just in it for the long haul'

With the salary cap rising , Kevin Durant is expected to opt out of the second-year of his two-year contract with Golden State and become a free agent again this summer.

But don't plan on him signing with another team.

“I’m liking it here,” Durant told Sam Amick of USA Today Sports at the Warriors' groundbreaking ceremony. “I’m liking everything that’s going on. I know what my contract says, but I didn’t plan on coming here for just a year. I’m in it right now, and I’m also just focusing on day by day.

“I know it’s cliché, and you hear that all the time, but I’m seriously just not thinking about it because I’m like – I’m just in it for the long haul.”

[RELATED: Durant on Chase Center: 'It'll be fun playing in there']

Warriors owner and CEO Joe Lacob is not concerned about losing Durant.

He also fully anticipates re-signing free-agent-to-be Stephen Curry.

“I have no angst whatsoever," Lacob told Amick. "I totally am positive (that) I think those guys are going to sign. They’re both free agents. They have a right to do whatever they want. They’ve earned it, and I respect that.

"If they don’t sign with us for some reason, then shame on me and us. I take responsibility for that. But I don’t see that happening.”

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant, Thunder Stopper? With a second consecutive magnificent performance in decisive wins over his former Oklahoma City teammates, Durant may be adding a nickname.

Durant on Wednesday night posted his first 40-point game as a Warrior, carrying them to a 121-100 win over the Thunder at Oracle Arena.

He has scored 79 points in two games against OKC, taking only 40 shots to ring up such an impressive total. He was 13-of-16 Wednesday night and 15-of-24 in scoring 39 points in a 122-96 win on Nov. 3 at Oracle.

Though Durant downplayed his production, his coach and teammates were not surprised he has been so good against the team with which he spent nine seasons.

“It’s still kind of fresh, but we can’t deny the history of him with OKC,” Stephen Curry said.

“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that extra juice when you play against a team that you played on.”

Durant not only finished with a season-high point total but also added a team-best 12 rebounds, along with four assists and three blocks. He practically stamped his signature on the game.

“My teammates are doing a good job of freeing me up,” said Durant, who drilled 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. “I put the work in and prepared myself for every game. I just happened to knock them down.”

It’s not just that Durant was facing his former team, though. He was, once again, on opposite sides from longtime teammate and erstwhile friend Russell Westbrook. The two have not had much to say to each other since Durant’s decision last July to leave OKC and sign with the Warriors.

Little changed Wednesday night, though the two had a brief exchange in the second half, as Durant headed to the line to shoot a pair of free throws.

Asked if the two have talked, Westbrook said, “Nah,” despite the brief dialogue.

Durant carefully avoided saying anything remotely inflammatory about Westbrook or any of his former teammates.

“It’s good to see everybody,” he said. “Once the ball is tipped, you’re just playing. You’re just hooping. It’s as simple as that. But it’s definitely good to see everybody.”

Durant’s lone lowlight came when he blew a dunk with 1:45 left in the first half, taking flight about 10 feet from the basket and slamming the ball off the back of the rim and nearly to halfcourt.

“I thought I made it,” Durant said, “and then I heard the crowd.

“I was kind of upset. I tried to dunk it too hard, I think. I might have jumped from a little too far out. As I was close to the rim, I felt myself coming down a little earlier than usual.

“But, yeah, I should have made that one. That would have brought the crowd to its feet. But, hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity.”

The crowd was on its feet plenty, as was the case during Durant’s previous display against OKC. The Thunder won’t be back to Oakland this season.

Durant will have another chance to go after his former team and burnish his credentials as a Thunder Stopper when the teams meet on Feb. 11 in Oklahoma City.