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sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: The Warriors are a strange mix. That could bring big things — or disaster — this postseason

o BANG/Kurtenbach: The Warriors are a strange mix. That could bring big things — oAllen

BANG/Kurtenbach: The Warriors are a strange mix. That could bring big things — or disaster — this postseason


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG/Kurtenbach:_The_Warriors_are_a_strange_mix._That
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2024 15:22:51 -0700
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 by: Allen - Mon, 15 Apr 2024 22:22 UTC

Kurtenbach: The Warriors are a strange mix. That could bring big things
— or disaster — this postseason
Warriors – Kings play-in game: Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay
Thompson need to be at their best this week. And the Warriors' young
players have to meet them there.
>Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, and guard Brandin
Podziemski celebrate at the end of the team’s NBA basketball game
against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, April
11, 2024. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2024 at 12:59 p.m. | UPDATED: April 15, 2024 at
2:10 p.m.

The Warriors are old.

The Warriors are young.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, Andrew Wiggins resides.

And Golden State is hoping this strange brew — these two timelines, if
you will — will mesh not only for Tuesday’s win-or-go-home play-in
tournament game with the Kings in Sacramento but for any game the
Warriors have beyond that.

There’s hope it can. The Warriors are 26-12 since the start of February
— one of the best records in the league with strong underlying stats.

But the postseason is a different beast, and it will challenge both
sides of the roster in ways they’ve never faced before.

For the veterans — who, save for Chris Paul, have rings on their fingers
— Tuesday’s game creates a real issue:

How can you pace yourself for what you hope is a long postseason run if
you start with a Game 7-like contest?

I’m no runner, but I don’t think starting a marathon with a full-on
sprint is advantageous. Especially if you then have to follow that start
with another full-on sprint.

That sounds like an excellent way to lose your legs before the playoffs

(The Play In Tournament, like Wiggins, exists in between places. They
are not technically playoff games or regular season games. It’s
basketball purgatory in every way.)

But what other choice do Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson
have? With the possibility of the Big Three being broken up this summer
looming (Thompson is a free agent), it would be terribly unbecoming if
the all-time great trio’s final act together was to lose to the Kings in
Sacramento in the 9-10 game.

Will it diminish the legend? Of course not. We’ll just treat it like we
collectively remember Michael Jordan playing for the Washington
Wizards—I believe the term is collective amnesia.

Still, forgetting it ever happened will take some effort.

It would be best if we could avoid the scenario altogether.

But Tuesday will take nearly everything the Warriors’ veterans have to
win. Golden State will have a hell of a time staying in front of Kings
point guard D’Aaron Fox, and Green is two early fouls (or a stomp) away
from Domantas Sabonis doing a Nicola Jokic impression in the high post.

The Warriors say they are a better team this season than the one that
went seven with the Kings in the first round last season. They might be.
The Kings are unquestionably worse, particularly without Warriors killer
Malik Monk, who is injured and will not play Tuesday.

But don’t forget that the Dubs went down 2-0 to Sacramento in last
year’s series and needed one of Curry’s greatest performances—a 50-piece
in Game 7—to advance.

And the ramifications of that series win were felt a round later. The
Dubs had no gas left in the tank for the critical portions of the team’s
second-round series with the Lakers.

By his lofty standards, Curry limped to the finish line this season. The
burden of carrying this team throughout the regular season was
evident—his shooting percentages from the field and 3-point line dropped
four percent (resulting in a five-point-per-game drop) after the
All-Star break, all while he drove to the basket less and turned the
ball over more.

In a one-off (or a two-off, like the Warriors face) there are few
players in the league you’d rather have at the helm.

But, without extrapolating too far, what will Curry have left for a
seven-game series should the Dubs advance? Curry is a markedly better
player on three-plus days rest (27 points per game, 41 percent from 3),
and he’ll have it going into Tuesday’s contest. But after that, it’s
bang-bang-bang. With a win the Warriors will play Thursday in Los
Angeles or New Orleans. Another win, and they’re in Oklahoma City for
what is expected for a Sunday contest. From that point on, rest won’t
come easy.

Curry has the heart of a lion, but does he still have the legs of a gazelle?

Gary Payton II to miss Warriors’ play-in round, beginning in Sacramento
Photos: Fans can’t believe how tall Steph Curry’s eldest daughter,
Riley, has grown
Warriors’ overachieving rookie duo set for intense play-in test
Clifford Ray’s long arms: How a Warrior saved a dolphin
Kurtenbach: The Warriors messed around and found out this season. It
might just work out for the best

The Warriors can’t overly concern themselves with such matters now —
they have to take everything day-by-day, but should Golden State win
Tuesday, this issue has to be considered primary for the Warriors moving

Similar questions of full availability must be asked of the other
veterans on the team. The Warriors know what they’ll get from Green — so
long as he stays on the court — but what about Thompson? Can he string
together back-to-back strong games to advance to the playoffs? Can he
even give back-to-back halves? Some of his best-scoring games this
season have come via one-quarter bursts.

And what of Paul? The Warriors need his steady hand for the minutes when
Curry isn’t on the floor, but can Golden State trust that his legs have
the lift to score in the playoffs? Can they play him and Curry together
in the backcourt and survive against the focused and bespoke offensive
game plans teams bust out after 82 regular season games?

(I gave up on guessing which Wiggins will arrive for any game, much less
a big one — the Warriors can only hope it’s the 2022 edition, a
brilliant and title-winning player.)

There’s no question that the young players have the legs heading into
this postseason, but do they have their heads about them? The playoffs
require physical prowess, sure, but the intensity of the games ahead
also requires serious mental fortitude, unwavering focus, and a
comprehensive understanding of one’s role on both sides of the court.

Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis are wise beyond their years
(21 and 24), but these all-or-nothing contests will put that
level-headedness to the test. It’s all been fun and games up until this
point. Let’s see if the kids can continue to play winning basketball
when everything is on the line.

And let’s see what Jonathan Kuminga makes the trip to Sacramento. At 21
years old, Kuminga is the X-factor of all X-factors. He can
singlehandedly win the Warriors Tuesday’s game, and he also carries the
ability to lose it for them, too.

If the uber-athletic wing plays controlled, disciplined ball inside the
Warriors’ systems, he can be the No. 2 Curry needs to lift the Dubs. A
big Kuminga game, in service of Curry and the team, could result in a
big Warriors win.

But a game where Kuminga serves himself — as he still, understandably,
wants to do at times — could torpedo any chance the Dubs have of
winning. Might be a viable No. 1 someday, but that day is not today. And
there were plenty of regular season games where he seemed hellbent on
proving that belief incorrect — game plan be damned. The Warriors did
not fare well in those contests.

Above all, remember that the Warriors were the worst team to make the
postseason in the Western Conference. The banners don’t matter. Last
year’s first-round win doesn’t matter, either. The Warriors need
everyone at their best this week if they’re to play for anything
meaningful come the weekend.

And truthfully, even that might not be enough.

It’s time for the young, the old, and the inscrutable, unplaceable, and
indispensable Wiggins to come together.

They’ve played good basketball as of late.

They need to play great basketball now.

sport / / BANG/Kurtenbach: The Warriors are a strange mix. That could bring big things — or disaster — this postseason


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