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.

Over next few days, Steve Kerr's doctors have one goal to achieve

Over next few days, Steve Kerr's doctors have one goal to achieve

PORTLAND -- After a full week of sheer agony, Steve Kerr walked out of Moda Center late Monday night with hardly a bounce in his step but at least a modicum of hope in his heart.

That’s the power of the Warriors coach feeling optimistic about his future health if not his present condition.

The Warriors had swept the Trail Blazers out of the postseason, yes, but Kerr’s immediate concerns are more about life than basketball. This is a man on a desperate mission to end his chronic misery.

In the 19 months since undergoing two back surgeries in the summer of 2015, Kerr has wondered if relief ever would come. It has not. And now, suddenly, he feels it might. Maybe.

Since Kerr announced his decision Sunday to step away from basketball to focus on his health, the calls and e-mails have come flooding in. People want to help. Some have remedies. Some speak of herbs that might alleviate some of his suffering.

Kerr is willing to listen. He has long reached the point where he feels he has nothing to lose by listening to anything reasonable and considering anything that might help.

[POOLE: This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body]

He revealed to NBCSportsBayArea.com that in recent days he has spoken to several people who have experienced the debilitating effects of a cerebrospinal fluid leak and been able to overcome it. He says that because his symptoms have intensified over the past week, in an odd twist, that may make it easier for specialists to trace the precise source.

“That’s what the next few days are all about,” Kerr said, standing down the hallway from the visitor’s locker room. “They’re trying to find it. If they can find it, they can fix it.”

He’ll begin in the coming days by consulting with specialists at Stanford Medical Center, which has some of the more respected surgeons in the world.

Though Kerr requested that we not reveal certain elements of what’s ahead, he said he felt somewhat better than had a few days ago. Maybe part of that was hearing the comeback stories of others.

Kerr detailed the story of an NFL executive who experienced much the same painful and lingering after-effects as he did following his second surgery. This executive, who shall not be named, dealt with it for five months before the problem was detected and repaired.

“He’s 100 percent,” Kerr said. “So I’m hopeful. And he’s not the only one.”

Kerr reiterated that his lower back is fine. The surgery actually alleviated that pain, only to bring about something even worse. He conceded there have been moments when he felt there was no hope, that there would be no end to the suffering.

Last week was, in fact, such a period. That’s why he felt it necessary to step away from his coaching duties for an indefinite period, handing things over to assistant coach Mike Brown.

“I had no chance,” he said. “I had been trying everything.”

Kerr felt good enough to address the team after their victory. He was proud of everyone, he said, from coaches to players to staff members, any member of the traveling party.

It’s a start. Hearing Kerr talk of the past few days, as well as the many months before, it all makes sense that he chose to take some time for himself. He had reached a point where walking away from his job was necessary to save his sanity, if not his life.

How could he function and meet the demands of an NBA coach if he barely could function as a human being?

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

PORTLAND -- Four games, four quarters to each and the Warriors are on to the next round of the postseason.

Here are four things we learned about these Warriors in the wake of their four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

IT’S A TEAM THING: The Warriors lost All-Star forward Kevin Durant in Game 1, came back and won Game 2. They lost head coach Steve Kerr before Game 3, went out and fashioned one of the biggest comebacks in franchise postseason history. They are constructed in such a way that the collective is strong enough to overcome the loss of one man. They won this series in a walk despite being shorthanded for the last three games and without their head coach for the last two. This team and this staff are bigger than any individual.

JAVALE McGEE MATTERS: By last Sept. 16 the summer was all but gone and every coveted player NBA player had been accounted for. That’s when the Warriors signed McGee with the hope that he could provide some length and athleticism on the block, if only for a few minutes a night -- and, surely, some nights not at all. McGee was the last man to make the team, and here he was dominating a Trail Blazers team that, to be fair, lacked a healthy center. He was special in this series, and what he provides will be needed as the Warriors move forward.

DRAYMOND’S VALUE IS BEYOND MEASURE: There were so many examples during the regular season that illustrated Draymond Green’s significance to the Warriors. He topped them all in this series. He defended, at some point, every member of the Portland team. He rebounded. He made 3-pointers. He blocked 17 shots. The Blazers tried him early but quickly become discouraged at attacking whenever he was on the court. He disrupted their offense in more ways than they could have imagined. As a bonus, he avoided notable run-ins with officials.

SPLASHING NOT NEEDED: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were fabulous in the second half of Game 3 and Curry stood out in Game 4. But by the time the Splash Brothers found their offensive groove, the Warriors were up 2-0 in the series and rallying behind their defense en route to taking Game 3. The battle of the backcourts, logically deemed a critical factor in this series, was a virtual statistical standoff. Curry/Thompson combined for 192 points, while Damian Lillard 111 and CJ McCollum totaled 201. If it’s the numbers are that close, the Warriors will win every series, and probably sweep.