The Golden State Warriors aren’t about to face a bunch of title contenders, but their upcoming stretch still might be their toughest of the season. Starting Monday in Philadelphia, they will play five games in seven nights (including an early start in New York and two back-to-backs). After that, they’ll head home to play one game against the Boston Celtics, then go back on the road for a back-to-back in Minnesota and San Antonio.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “the most insane schedule I’ve ever seen in all my years in the NBA,” then lamented the fact that their rematch against the San Antonio Spurs on March 11 won’t exactly be at an opportune time.
“Here you go, Golden State, here’s your marquee game against the Spurs on a Saturday night on ABC and it’ll be your eighth game in 12 days with 10,000 miles,” Kerr said. “Like, it’s insane. So I’ve gotta be very, very careful about our players’ welfare and make sure they’re fresh and not too fatigued. Because we know that can lead to injury.”
Even if the schedule wasn’t so rough, the Warriors would have a challenge here: not looking ahead to the playoffs. They shouldn’t even be thinking about that San Antonio game yet; playing in Washington on the second night of a back-to-back Tuesday could be a tough one. There are 24 games left, and before Golden State knows it, the postseason will be here. This is why the Warriors need to make sure they’re crisp on both ends of the floor now, especially in close, late-game situations. That could be difficult if guys are going in and out of the lineup because Kerr has to manage minutes, but he has already said that he has to put health above everything else.
Scoring leader: Kevin Durant (25.7)
Assists leader: Draymond Green (7.1)
Rebounding leader: Kevin Durant (8.4)
GAMES THIS WEEK
Monday, 7 p.m. ET: Philadelphia 76ers
Where: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: NBA League Pass
Streaming: NBA League Pass
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET: Washington Wizards
Where: Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
TV: NBA TV
Streaming: PlayStation Vue
Thursday, 10:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bulls
Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET: New York Knicks
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Kerr selectively rested players throughout the year, but perhaps not as much as expected. The Warriors’ four All-Stars are averaging between 32.5 and 34.1 minutes, so it’s not as if they need to be given nights off regularly. This brutal stretch, though, might change that.
Why should Golden State play a full lineup against the Sixers on Monday? Why not let Curry rest in Chicago and Durant rest in New York? Unlike the rest of the league, the Warriors have the luxury of multiple MVP candidates, plus a deep roster full of versatile defenders and playmakers. They should take advantage of this and avoid wearing guys down at all costs.
Is there anything to this Green-Kerr stuff?
Green played only 23 minutes against the Nets and missed nine of his 10 shots, then declined to talk to the media about it. Kerr didn’t have much to say, either, telling reporters that “it just wasn’t his night.”
ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss noted that Green “entered the coach’s huddle for a lengthy conversation with Kerr” during the first quarter. The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami called the locker room “quiet” and “far more tense than you would ever expect from a team that just qualified for the playoffs,” guessing that there are “edgy feelings” between Kerr and Green.
This could be nothing. It’s certainly not the first time that Green and Kerr have had a difference of opinion, and the coach had every right to limit his minutes when he wasn’t playing well. My guess is that they’ll move on quickly if they haven’t already. Still, it’s something to watch.
The new guy
Golden State is expected to sign guard Jose Calderon after the Los Angeles Lakers buy him out. In all likelihood, Calderon will hardly play for the Warriors, and his poor defense will keep him off the court in the playoffs. I’m curious, though, about how things might work on the other end. Calderon is a career 41.1 percent 3-point shooter, and he has obviously never played on a team with this much talent. If Kerr rests guys and Calderon gets a chance to play, I wouldn’t be surprised if he knocked down a bunch of open 3-pointers.
BIGGEST ONE-ON-ONE MATCHUP
Splash Brothers vs. John Wall and Bradley Beal: Technically, this is a two-on-two matchup, but we’re going with it anyway. Wall and Beal believe they’re as good as any one-two punch in the NBA, and they’ve been playing like it. Wall is having the best season of his career, Beal should have made the All-Star Game over Carmelo Anthony and the Wizards have a +9.8 net rating when the two of them share the court. Few backcourts can match Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s production, but these guys are capable of doing that.