The Warriors conclude their four-game road trip on Fridaynight against the Jazz in Utah. The Warriors are coming off a 97-94 win overMinnesota on Wednesday, a game that snapped a season-high six-game losingstreak.The Jazz are 10th in the Western Conferencestandings a game-and-a-half behind eighth-place Houston. Utah is a half-gamebehind Phoenix, which is in ninth-place.Interestingly, this is a game with draft pick implications.If the Warriors get the No. 8 pick or worse, it will go to the Jazz. If theWarriors get picks No. 1 through No. 7, they keep pick.In other words, a Jazz victory doesnt do them any favors interms of ultimately getting the Warriors pick. Nevertheless, Jazz GM KevinOConnor said he wants his team to make the playoffs. Period.Here are some things to watch for when the Warriors play atUtah on Friday:Hang in early: This is a game withsignificance for the Jazz. Utah has lost five of its past seven games, whichnow has them on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conferenceplayoff picture. After the Warriors, the Jazz has a home-and-home seriesagainst the Spurs.So, this is one you figure Utah knows it needs. The Warriorsneed to match Utahs energy early and see if they can find a way to keep itclose heading into the fourth quarter.Jenkins emergence: Charles Jenkins hitthe game-winning shot on Wednesday against the Timberwolves, and hes beginningto pitch in on a consistent basis.Jazz point guard Devin Harris has a sprained left ankle, andhis status for the game is uncertain. If Harris cant go, expect Earl Watson toget the start and for Jamaal Tinsley to get minutes.But no matter who plays the point for Utah, its a matchupthat Jenkins has a chance to win.Thompsons impact: Warriors rookieshooting guard Klay Thompson has hit a little bit of a wall. Its not that hesplayed poorly, but he hasnt been much of a factor.Hes shooting just 36-for-88 over the past six games (40.9percent), including just 9-of-31 (29 percent) from 3-point range. Worse,however, is the fact that Thompson has taken just five free throws in the pastsix games, which total 168 minutes: more than three 48-minute games.During that span of games, Thompson has particularlydefended well, rebounded well or assisted well, either.
OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.
“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.
“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).
“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”
This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.
As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.
“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”
Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.
A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.
The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.
All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.
Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.
In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.
On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.
Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.
Kevin really put a ring instead of a cherry on top of the cupcake 👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/1GVaFNbQet— Julie Phayer (@juliephayer) June 24, 2017
Peep KD's hat.— NBCS Warriors News (@NBCSWarriors) June 24, 2017
Cupcake with a ring on top. 👀 pic.twitter.com/VmXAhRz8k5
So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.