PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7, followed by Warriors-Thunder at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
The Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday,allowing them to put a couple ugly losses to Indiana and Memphis behindthem. Now, though, if theyre serious about making a move, is the time tobuild.Only issue is that here come the Oklahoma City Thunder,owners of the NBAs best record at 15-3.Here are some things to watch for when the Warriors play theThunder Friday night at Oracle:
Curry-Westbrook matchup: RussellWestbrook is considered one of the best point guards in basketball, but StephenCurry has done just fine against him during their short careers. For whateverreason, Westbrook usually struggles against Golden State. Last year he shot31.1 percent (14-for-45) in threegames against the Warriors. Whatever Curry is doing against Westbrook, heshould keep it up.Durant factor: Kevin Durant is the earlyMVP favorite and he needs to be accounted for on the floor. Over the years, theWarriors have tried many defenders on Durant including Monta Ellis.The key isnt to shut down Durant. The key is to turn himinto a volume shooter.Size matters: The Thunder start a big,physical frontline in Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. If the Warriors dontaccount for them on the glass, theres a good chance this will be a one-sidedgame tonight.Warriors coach Mark Jackson has preferred to go small infourth quarters, using David Lee at the center position. If Jackson does thattonight, hell need to monitor the interior play and make sure things dont getout of hand.Bench play: The Warriors continue to getsolid play from their bench, particularly Brandon Rush. The Thunder, though,have a sixth-man of the year candidate in James Harden, a player who wouldstart on most teams. Harden is another player who must be accounted forwhenever he is in the game.Sefalosha factor: Portlands long twoguard Nicolas Batum did a verynice job against Monta Ellis on Thursday, holding Ellis to 2-for-9 shooting. Onthe other hand, Ellis didnt force the issue and wound up handing out 12assists.Thabo Sefolosha is the same kind of defender long and lanky as Batum. It will be interesting to see how Ellis handles Fridays challenge.
The NBA took a massive power shift Wednesday with the Clippers trading point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for seven players, a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) and $661,000.
Houston GM Daryl Morey is going all in on a mission to compete with the Warriors and he believes the Rockets are now there with the pairing of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden.
"You know, it's a guards-based league. It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Morey said at the team's press conference, as captured by Mark Berman of Houston's FOX 26. "With James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams in this league."
Paul, who turned 32 in May, is a nine-time All-Star. He spent his last six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season in 61 games played.
This past season, Harden became a primary point guard for the first time under Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and the bearded lefty excelled in his new position. Harden led the NBA with 11.2 assists per game while putting up 29.1 points per game.
Houston received guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, plus the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer from Los Angeles.
The Rockets went 55-27 last season, four games ahead of the Clippers, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs.
DANVILLE -- Everything the Warriors have said and done, as well as everything Stephen Curry has said, indicates there is no chance of a divorce, even though Curry becomes an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.
Curry has pointed out numerous times that he plans to sign with the Warriors, implying that it would be pointless for other teams to pursue him on the open market.
And on Wednesday afternoon, Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers reiterated the team’s stance regarding the two-time MVP by expressing Curry would be a top priority.
“He’s got to be,” Myers said at Monte Vista High School, where he and Warriors forward Draymond Green was subjects of a news conference/pep rally in the wake of Myers being named Executive of the Year and Green being named Defensive Player of the Year.
Myers was careful not to slight other players the Warriors expect to re-sign, such as Kevin Durant, and those the team hopes to retain, notably Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“Actually, we’ve got a lot of priorities,” Myers said. “But, certainly, touching all of them and making sure we do our job and make sure they know we want them is important,” Myers said. “But he knows how we feel. I think he’s happy. But he’s a huge priority.”
The Warriors are allowed to pay Curry about $200 million over the next five seasons, and CEO Joe Lacob has said he’s ready to do whatever it takes.