Nets game holds key to Warriors road trip

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Nets game holds key to Warriors road trip

Programming note: Nets-Warriors coverage begins on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live at 4 p.m. Stick around after the final buzzer for Warriors Postgame Live.

There are certain games during the course of an 82-game schedule that seem to stick out more than others. Friday night’s game between the Nets and Warriors in Brooklyn would seem to be one of those games.

The Warriors (11-7), coming off a win at Detroit on Wednesday, are playing Game 2 of a seven-game road trip, and the Nets are the second-toughest opponent (besides Miami) that they’ll face.

When charting out a road trip such as this, it’s not a game you put down in the “win” column early, that’s for sure. But that’s why it could be a real swing game for the Warriors. If the Warriors can come out of Brooklyn with a win, it sets up the possibility that this road trip could be something special.

Here are some things to watch for during Friday’s game between the Warriors and Brooklyn Nets:

The point guard matchup: Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is playing very well these days, having put together four consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 assists.

Question is: Can he have that type of impactful game against a very good opponent on the road? He may have to if the Warriors have a shot at winning the game.

As for Williams, he struggled against the Warriors in a Nov. 21 loss at Oracle Arena, scoring just nine points – on 4-for-12 from the field – and handing out eight assists.

Look for small-ball: If there’s one thing Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been questioned about this season, it’s his propensity to forgo playing with a center and instead pairing David Lee and Carl Landry up front.

Well, there should be plenty of Lee and Landry on Friday because Brooklyn center Brook Lopez will not play because of sprained right foot.

Andray Blatche could get the start in Lopez’ place and Reggie Evans – assuming he’ll play – will likely get plenty of minutes, too.

Locate Wallace: Gerald Wallace didn’t play when the team’s played on Nov. 21, and he’s been a player who has a nice history against Golden State.

Wallace is a very good defender, and his athleticism has afforded him the ability to get plenty of easy buckets over the years. If Wallace is defending Klay Thompson, it’s important Thompson makes sure to take as many quality shots as possible.

Wallace is also a very good rebounder from the small forward spot and Golden State will have to be aware of that.

 

Whether Brown or Kerr coach, Warriors sticking to same blueprint

Whether Brown or Kerr coach, Warriors sticking to same blueprint

OAKLAND -- For the first time since he joined the coaching staff last summer, Mike Brown on Wednesday morning arrived at the Warriors facility a man in charge.

As acting head coach, he would decide when practice started and when it ended, and conduct proceedings in between.

The general activity was not much different for anyone else, though, as it continues to become evident that everything the Warriors do for the foreseeable future will be a Brown-Kerr, or Kerr-Brown, production.

“Steve is going to be a part of this process the whole time,” Brown said after practice. “Almost before I do anything, I’m going to consult with him. The only time I won’t consult with him is probably during a game.”

Since Kerr’s announcement last Sunday that he was taking an indefinite leave to attend to personal health issues, Brown has been wielding the clipboard. He actually coached Game 3 against Portland last Saturday, in Kerr’s absence, before knowing in advance he’d also coach Game 4 Monday night.

Brown is 2-0, with the Game 4 win clinching a Warriors sweep of the Trail Blazers. Yet Brown is quick to remind anyone that he is following the plan laid out by Kerr. The two exchanged texts Tuesday and, according to Brown, “spoke at length” after the game between the Jazz and the Clippers -- one of which will face the Warriors in the next round.

Though the Warriors are operating under a different head coach, all indications are the atmosphere around the team remains stable and relatively unchanged.

“Obviously it’s different personalities, but when you make it about the players, when you make it about winning, all that other stuff really doesn’t matter,” Kevin Durant said. “He coaches us. He coaches the game of basketball and he does it very well. Our whole coaching staff does the same thing.

“When it’s about basketball, it’s not about trying to have authority over us. He’s just coaching us. He’s just coaching us up. He’s just telling us the proper way to do things on the basketball court. It’s pretty simple when you try to do that. Then it’s on us to try to execute.”

Execution has gone well, particularly over the last six quarters of the series against Portland. The Warriors wiped out a 16-point deficit in the second half to win Game 3, and then rolled to a 35-9 start in Game 4 before coasting to the closeout victory.

Brown was on the sideline in Game 4, with Kerr watching the game from the locker room.

It’s fairly apparent, though, that everyone involved feels a heightened sense of accountability and ownership.

“Mike has had a pretty big voice throughout the whole season,” Durant said. “He’s been a head coach before, understands what it takes to be a head coach. And the coaching staff is just so smart, and they empower each other.

“Anybody, if you’re around us on a day-to-day basis, anybody can tell that they work well as a group. Coach Kerr does a great job. He spearheads it all by empowering everybody, from the coaches to the players.”

After sweeping Blazers, Warriors relishing some needed down time

After sweeping Blazers, Warriors relishing some needed down time

OAKLAND -- After arriving in Oakland in the wee hours Tuesday morning, the Warriors took the day off, went through a light practice Wednesday and will take another day off Thursday.

Slackers, eh?

Not really, when the next game is at least four days away.

The semi-lax scheduling isn’t the decision of acting head coach Mike Brown. It’s not even the decision of head coach Steve Kerr, who was not at practice Wednesday and remains out indefinitely. It’s a common sense call that was made between the two men, with players and staffers on board.

“If you can sweep every series,” Kevin Durant said after practice, “then that’ll be perfect.”

This is one of the perks of sweeping a first-round opponent. By eliminating the Trail Blazers in four games and with their next opponent undetermined, the Warriors are able to balance work and rest.

“With this group here,” Brown said, “the continuity that the nucleus has and how intelligent the guys are, with the big-time veterans we’ve brought in, we feel that rest for their bodies and mentally (are) more important than coming in here and having practice on a daily basis.”

They also have a couple guys recovering from injuries. Forward Matt Barnes (right foot/ankle bone bruise) has been out two weeks, and guard Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain/hand contusion) has missed the past nine days. Both, however, are expected to be available for the next series.

The soonest that would be is Sunday against Utah, which owns a 3-2 series lead over the Clippers and can close it out Friday in Salt Lake City. If the Clippers win and push the series to seven games, the Warriors would then open against the Clippers-Jazz winner on May 2.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have no choice but to prepare for both, with plenty of time to do so.