Warriors-Thunder: What to watch for

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Warriors-Thunder: What to watch for

The Warriors will try to build on a two-game winning streakwhen they play the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunderon Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.The Warriors (5-4) are coming off a 106-98 victory over theTimberwolves in Minnesota on Friday. This is the middle game of a three-gameroad trip for the Warriors. The trip concludes Monday in Dallas.The Thunder (7-3) have won six of their past seven games,including a blowout win over New Orleans on Friday. The Thunder has beaten theWarriors six consecutive games in Oklahoma City.Here are some things to watch for during Sundays gamebetween the Warriors and Thunder:Warriors body language: This is a gamethat few expect the Warriors to win. Theyre going into an Arena where theyhavent won in a while and theyre playing one of the leagues eliteteams.Still, if the Warriors expect to have realistic hopes ofmaking the postseason this season, theyre going to have to win some games thatare unexpected.This would qualify. Lets see if the Warriors have the lookof a team that expects to win.Durant vs. the rookie: Warriors rookieHarrison Barnes has been a big-time bright spot in the teams two recent games.Barnes has shown a knack for scoring and his athleticism sticks out on theWarriors.If you look at the Warriors roster minus Brandon Rush it seems obvious that Barnes is Golden States best option when it comes todefending Kevin Durant.It wont be easy for Barnes, but the reality is that hes abetter option defending Durant than Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green or KlayThompson.Curry vs. Westbrook: Its interesting despite being one of the most dynamic and explosive point guards in the league,Russell Westbrook is still relentlessly criticized for hisdecision-making.And yet Westbrook enters Sundays game averaging 8.5 assistsper game and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3-to-1. Curry, on theother hand, has been shaky with the ball this season. He has just 49 assiststhis year and 30 turnovers, a ratio of less than 2-to-1.Since Westbrook has a size and athleticism over Curry, itsimportant that the Warriors point guard plays a steady game and can keepWestbrook honest on defense by making some perimeter shots.

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

PORTLAND -- Steve Kerr was in such agony Saturday that he found little comfort even while watching from the team hotel as his Warriors pulled out a playoff victory over Trail Blazers, multiple sources told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

The pain is so intense that Kerr even had difficulty keeping up with the game. Moreover, it may be a while before he’s able to return to full-time coaching duties.

Assistant Mike Brown served as acting head coach in a 119-113 win over Portland in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.

“He’s obviously going through a lot physically,” Stephen Curry said of Kerr after the game, “and that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself.”

Kerr was in obvious discomfort Friday, when he met with the media for his post-practice news conference. Though he made the flight to Oregon with the team Friday afternoon, he was not able to attend shootaround Saturday morning. It was the second time this season that Kerr missed a shootaround, the first coming March 2 in Chicago.

By Saturday afternoon, the Warriors were announcing he would not coach Game 3.

It was not a great surprise to those who work closely with Kerr.

“He’s suffering,” said one person close to Kerr.

“He hadn’t been feeling well for a couple days, so I knew it would be a possibility,” Brown said before the game.

Kerr continues to cope with debilitating side effects from multiple back surgeries in the summer of 2015. He took a leave of absence last season, missing nearly all of training camp and the first 43 games of the regular season before returning.

Both the symptoms have persisted. Kerr still cannot do many of the things he loves, he acknowledged to NBCSportsBayArea.com, such as play golf. Though his back is somewhat improved, he still experiences severe headaches and neck pain.

The worst part about the discomfort is its consistency. It’s nagging at him every day and night, sometimes more severe than others.

It has gotten worse in recent days, though. It is conceivable, even likely, according to those close to Kerr, that he will miss Game 4 Monday night.

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

While head coach Steve Kerr was unable to make Saturday's Game 3 due to an illness, the Warriors went out and took a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. 

After the game, Steph Curry dedicated the win to Kerr by keeping the game ball for him. 

"Our coach is going through a lot right now physically and he told us this morning this is a situation where we need to rally and go out and win a game for him, but we felt like that," Curry said after the Warriors' 119-113 win. "The way that game had gone on we had to fight and do it for him. 

"The way that he said it was we had to win one for The Gipper, so shout out to coach Kerr." 

Curry led the Warriors with 34 points in Saturday's win.