Warriors vs. Heat: What to watch for

james_lebron_heat_warriors.jpg

Warriors vs. Heat: What to watch for

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

The Warriors roll into Miami on Wednesday as the proud owners of a four-game road winning streak and a chance to really turn some heads around the NBA.

The Warriors are 14-7, a terrific start, no doubt. But if they can knock off the defending champion Heat on its home floor … that would be an eyebrow-raiser, to say the least.

The Heat (14-5) has won two straight and eight of its past 10 games. Miami is 10-1 at home this season.

Here are some things to watch for during Wednesday’s game between the Warriors and Heat:

Play at the right tempo: As a rule, the Warriors would like to play uptempo, and this game is no different. At the same time, Golden State needs to make sure it values possessions and gets back in defensive transition.

A track meet alone isn’t going to get it done.

As a team Miami is shooting over 50 percent from the floor and averaging 108 points per game at home. If this game goes too fast for the Warriors, they risk the possibility of getting overwhelmed by the Heat’s athleticism.

If they play too slow a pace, they risk getting swallowed up by Miami’s halfcourt defense. Golden State should want to play somewhere in the middle.

No LeBron domination: You can’t discuss the Miami Heat without discussing LeBron James, who is having an incredible season. He is averaging 25.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. Most impressive is James is shooting 54 percent from the floor, including 44 percent from 3-point range.

Rookies Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green will likely get their chances to check James -- which is a terrific challenge for a first-year player.

Lee vs. Bosh: David Lee is playing terrific basketball right now, and he’ll need to continue that against the Heat. Chris Bosh has been playing plenty of center for Miami, but that doesn’t mean the two won’t be matched up against each other at times.

You could make a case that Lee and Bosh are similar type players – both with a little bit of an inside-out/outside-in game.

If Lee can win this matchup, it gives the Warriors a better chance to beat Miami.

 

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

PORTLAND -- Still suffering with chronic pain after multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will step away from his duties for an indefinite period.

Kerr made the announcement Sunday afternoon, one day after he was unable to attend Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He conceded the possibility he could miss the rest of the postseason.

“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said from the team hotel. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.

“With things getting worse, I just made the decision I couldn’t coach. As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors. I’m hoping for some improvement. If I can get some improvement, I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team.”

Assistant coach Mike Brown, a three-time NBA head coach who guided the Warriors to a 119-113 comeback win in Game 3, will serve as acting head coach during Kerr’s absence and will be on the sideline for Game 4 Monday night.

No matter what happens, Kerr said, he plans to assist in game preparation and remain involved with players and staff for the duration of the postseason.

“At this point in the season, we all have a feel for our team,” Kerr said. “Early in the season, it probably wouldn’t have been that way. It’s great that we’ve had the year together. It’s great that Mike has coached in this league 10 years and has coached in The Finals. He knows what he’s doing. The team is in great hands regardless.”

While spending Game 3 at the team hotel Saturday watching the game with his son, Nick, Kerr pointed out that some of the substitutions he thought should be made were, in fact, made seconds after crossing his mind.

Kerr said he did feel somewhat better Sunday than he did on Friday and Saturday.

Kerr has been coping with severe side effects since the summer of 2015. Though he has said his back was improved by the surgeries, a spinal leak has resulted in frequent headaches and neck pain.

Two days into training camp in September, barely a month after his second surgery in seven weeks, he took an indefinite leave of absence, returning Jan. 22, 2016 and coaching the final 39 regular-season games as well as the postseason.

But after laboring through 2016 training camp and the regular season -- often wearing a pain patch on the back of his neck -- the chronic anguish never went away, being by turns uncomfortable and excruciating. Kerr made it through only the first two games of the postseason.

He clearly was in discomfort during Game 2 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena and felt no better after an off-day Thursday. During his post-practice news conference Friday, before the team flight from Oakland to Portland, Kerr constantly shifted his body and grabbed his head.

Kerr was unable join the team for shootaround Saturday morning, and four hours later the Warriors announced Kerr would not attend Game 3.

“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff.

“We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it, that I’m going to do this or not.”

Kerr has tried various pain-killing drugs, as well as medicinal marijuana, in hopes of alleviating his chronic pain. Nothing so far has provided consistent relief, and some medications that have helped were offset by nausea and other side effects.

Kerr is in the third year of a five-year contract signed in May 2014. His 207-39 regular-season record is the best in NBA history by any coach over a three-year span.

Blazers big man Nurkic ruled out for Game 4 vs Warriors

Blazers big man Nurkic ruled out for Game 4 vs Warriors

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts Monday night at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

The Warriors hold a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series with the Blazers after Saturday's 119-113 win. 

For the first time this series, the Warriors went up against Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who returned from a leg fracture. Nurkic started and played a total of 16:40 in Game 3. 

In his return, the "Bosnian Beast" was a non-factor on offense. He only scored two points, but did grab 11 rebounds. And his return was even shorter than expected. 

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts ruled Nurkic out for Game 4. 

Nurkic averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 20 games for the Blazers after Portland acquired him in a trade with the Nuggets.