Steph Curry returns vs Suns, the NBA injury report + more
[+notes/quotes/video vs Magic, lead-up to Suns]
According to ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, Steph Curry will return to action tonight as the Golden State Warriors end their eight-game homestand against the Phoenix Suns (ring night for Damion Lee!). Andrews tweeted: “As just reported on This Just In and NBA Today, Stephen Curry will return and start tonight against the Suns, sources tell ESPN. His minute load is still being decided.”
Something interesting happened at practice yesterday. Warriors PR told the beatwriters covering practice that Curry was going to be listed as “probable”, but when the next official NBA injury report came out on the Internet (you can just Google “NBA injury report” to find the links to the PDFs), it had Steph listed as “questionable”.
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One of the friends of our YouTube channel, Percy Bedford, then told me that the gambling world usually interprets “questionable” as “he’s playing.” The NBA has a partnership with legal gambling sites, therefore it is likely the team (and quite possibly the league) took the safe approach.
Personally, throughout the years I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a guy listed as “questionable” and not play, but thinking about it, I could be wrong and, so far, looks like he’s right.
The fact that Kendra reported this from a source makes it more likely that Steph is, indeed, playing. That would be more “gospel” than the injury report in this case because her source could very well have influence on the next report to be submitted to the NBA. This is just my own personal take and, no, this is not journalism at its finest lol. Wish I had the time and resources to fully research this. Curry remains listed as “questionable” on the latest 3:30PM EST report.
Andrew Wiggins and Andre Iguodala are both still ramping back up and, on the one-year anniversary of #KlayDay (1/9), Steve Kerr yesterday said Klay Thompson practiced and is a go after missing the last game due to left knee soreness, the same knee on which he had ACL surgery. However, Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman remain out with their respective foot/ankle injuries. Kuminga wasn’t wearing a boot anymore while on the bench last game.
Meanwhile, the Suns are decimated with injuries to all eight of their top-most impact players, with Mikal Bridges the only one in the regular rotation healthy. Look for DLee to start tonight at 2-guard opposite Klay.
Finally, some former Warriors are impacting the landscape of the Eastern Conference. Yesterday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Kevin Durant would be re-evaluated in two weeks, effectively forcing KD to miss the next turn of a Brooklyn Nets matchup at Chase Center.
He had missed last season’s visit due to injury as well. On February 13, 2021, Durant did return to play against the Warriors, but it was during the COVID season and there were no fans at Chase yet at that time. The team did do a Jumbotron video tribute for KD, but that has still not occurred in front of DubNation live, yet (of course, in the 2019-20 season, Durant was out with the Achilles year).
KD hasn’t played in front of a Warriors crowd since May 8, 2019, as the Dubs took a 3-2 lead over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals. Back to present time, Durant has been spending the last month helping the Nets vault to the second-best record in the East, just 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics.
And the Toronto Raptors just announced Otto Porter will have surgery “to repair a dislocation of his second toe on his right foot,” writes Raps beatwriter Michael Grange. “Raptors highest-profile off-season acquisition played eight games this year.” Fwiw, this news also just so happens to fall on Porter’s wife’s birthday.
Toronto is mired in 11th place, six games under .500, 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls. Ironically, some fans on our channel have suggested trades of James Wiseman for OG Anunoby or Alex Caruso in the wake of their franchises’ struggles and which, on the surface, seem to have some merit, but I maintain the mentality of enjoying the process, rooting for and analyzing whatever roster Bob Myers gives us, and letting the experts on the Warriors’ staff do their jobs. After all, with six Finals trips in eight years, we should put our trust in them. Besides, I don’t get paid enough to do a GM staffer’s job.
Wishing for a trade also operates from a foundation of lack, rather than abundance. I’ve been around the game of basketball so much, GSW as of today remains hands-down the best-assembled franchise in the history of sports on this planet. I’m going to enjoy the ride, forcibly against negative people, if I have to. Enjoyment stems from gratitude, unless you are a psycho. The whole point of the LetsGoWarriors brand is to bring you as close to the team as possible, and this team operates on positivity.
Back to the Suns, who have lost nine of their last ten games and have plummeted to eighth place in the West, with the Warriors now a half-game ahead of them in sixth (the LA Clippers are, like the Warriors, at .500 and officially in seventh), one of the problems the Dubs have had is playing down to the competition. Never forget Bridges’ taunting in the last game:
Anyways, so as it turns out with the two-day break, I decided to give myself a mental break from uploading videos and rethinking the strategy on the Xs and Os breakdowns, which allowed me to write this catch-up article. Below are all the notes and quotes since even before the Orlando Magic loss, including excerpts from Draymond Green from the locker room after the Detroit Pistons loss, all in reverse chronological order. We’ll start with the quotes from practice yesterday. The drained Warriors skipped morning shootaround today and the Suns went to the old Oakland practice facility for theirs. Here’s hoping they left to cross the Bay Bridge sooner than later, with this thunderstorm-ish weather…
• Patrick Baldwin Jr. after practice on watching Klay Day: “I believe I had COVID…the dunk…one of the mentally toughest guys I’ve been around.” (me)
• On the mistake vs Wagner: “With principles with players, it’s just an adjustment…I was already thinking that well before the conversation (with Kerr)…You know, it's just a make a mistake, don't make it twice league. I learned that kind of the hard way with Wagner two nights ago. But had a good conversation about that and definitely was a point of emphasis in practice today.” (Dalton Johnson, me)
• On playing the 5: “The Big Three (Draymond, Klay, Andre)…what Kevon Looney does just in case I have to play the 5…We've got a locker room of vets who love being vets and love sharing information. Anytime I've got a question for Draymond or I've got a question for Andre, they're all ears and they'll give you everything they've got…I've never been a five at any level of my life, but at the end of the day I'm 6’10 and 230, 235 at this point. So I mean if we need it, I feel comfortable doing it. Offensively I feel very comfortable. Defensively, I'm very comfortable as well.” (Dalton Johnson)
• On what it’s like to be in the league now: “The more and more you step on the floor…I gotta know what team I’m playing for…the feeing of playing is better than I ever imagined (especially being hurt)…behind-the-scenes in the locker room is awesome.” (me)
• On the “Draymond rules”: “You follow after him defensively…He’s a superstar defender. He’s gonna talk you through it. He’s gonna do something off-script because he’s a step ahead. He’s gonna put you in the best position.” (me)
• On what he wants to improve: “Uh, finishing.” (me)
• More on the Draymond rules: “Off the top of my head that’s just a good name for what it might be…what Draymond sees…trying to win every possession…little things to take away two seconds here, two seconds there.” (me)
• On getting to the rim: “Three-point happy is something that I’m working on.” (me)
• Steve Kerr after practice: Klay Thompson is good to go. He, Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Andre Iguodala all practiced today. Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and JaMychal Green did not practice today. (Dalton Johnson)
• On the health of the team: “I defer to the training staff, but I'm concerned about Draymond and Loon right now, they've just played such heavy minutes…The guys who've been playing heavy minutes absolutely need a break but you got to do what you got to do.” They didn’t scrimmage, in addition to other heavy minute players such as Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Poole. (me, Dalton Johnson, Madeline Kenney, Kendra Andrews)
• On Klay, it being Klay Day: “My reflection goes to the night he came back, the ovation...the energy...and then the slow climb back up...back at it this year with a lot of highs and lows. This is the life of the professional athlete...he has literally seen it all and I'm really proud of him for persevering.” (me)
• On Klay not comparing himself to before: “That’s been a big part...you want to still think of yourself as Superman, but...Father Time...he's gotten to the point where he's appreciating being on the floor more.” (me)
• On the mental side for Klay: “We don't win the championship without him. We know that...he's still very capable, as he's shown.” (me)
• On what has made DiVincenzo a good fit: “Donte would be a good fit anywhere...(winning) is a big thing. It's harder to gauge that these days because more and more players are coming into the league without experience...Final Four MVP.” (me)
• On Iguodala’s health: “Came out of the game fine...take it day to day.” (me)
• On PBJ learning opponents’ tendencies, such as the mistake vs Franz Wagner: “PBJ closed out hard and PBJ went by him, right(-handed)...You know what you did wrong? Yeah, Wagner goes right...now you gotta do that times how many players there are in the league...It's OK to make the mistake, as long as you recognize what it was and you learn from it. Now you got to do that ... however many players are in the league, you've got to know everybody. And that's a big part of being a rookie. As you come into this league and you don't know tendencies, it all has to go into the Rolodex. He's learning but I think he's got a really bright future. He's skilled, he's smart, he's aware and he works at it.” (me, Dalton Johnson)
• On what he saw from the Orlando tape: “we're having a lot of possessions where we're going stagnant...without anybody diving to the rim...there's always slippage... ton of games and very little practice...our guys are fried...spacing (just a little bit in the corner, for example).” (me)
• On being last in the league in free throws: “related to personnel. We don't have a break-you-down team...if we're not getting the dive on the pick -and-roll...you're likely to launch more threes...late clock where we had nothing else.” (me)
• Kevon Looney postgame on having Wiggins and Iguodala back: “It was great to have them guys back out there with us, you know they are great players and you know we can count on them you know they have been out a while so it was good to get their legs under them and play with them.” (Warriors PR)
• On what it’s like the first game back from injury: “It’s always tough you know, definitely them guys got minute restrictions so you know trying to find rhythm you know you can practice as much as you want and go game speed but it is nothing like the actual game so you know we are a different type of team where the ball is moving and kinda free flowing so you never know when you are going to get your shots all the time so it's a little difficult you know but I think they played really well and I think they will pick it up pretty fast and get back to their rhythm.” (Warriors PR)
• On what went wrong tonight: “I mean a lot of things, they just really kinda outplayed us you know from start to finish they played a really good game, we definitely played hard but you know they made a lot of shots and we let them get comfortable early and they kinda kept it in the groove the whole game. You know if we aren't going to be able to play high-level defense it's going to be tough for us to win especially with Steph and Klay not playing, so I don’t think it was our best defensive game.” (Warriors PR)
• Donte DiVincenzo postgame on finding out he was starting for Klay: “I heard his name introduced just like you guys and that’s what I thought was going on. Then I didn’t see him on the bench and they came up to me right afterwards and told me ‘hey you're starting’ so obviously it's a little wrench thrown in your routine but it's always great to start obviously. I'm always ready to play.” (Warriors PR)
• On having Wiggins and Iguodala back: “I mean it's huge. Defensively I think it allows us to switch a lot, guard different positions. Also just you know that veteran leadership. When you have those voices behind you it's easier to pressure the ball, it's easier to kind of navigate when you can't see much behind you, speaking for myself on the ball because they're so polished in communication and it's huge for us. To have them on the defensive end it big. Then offensively Andre he’s a pro’s pro, just moves the ball, gets guys shots, knows who’s hot who’s not. So I'm looking forward to playing with him more.” (Warriors PR)
• On the second half: “Yeah I think they just competed harder than us tonight in the second half. You know their energy was higher, they were kind of playing more together. But ultimately they stuck it to us in that second half. I think the physicality, the energy, and they just competed harder in the second half. That’s all it was.” (Warriors PR)
• On if there’s fatigue due to a shorter rotation: “Yeah I mean absolutely. Just the wear and tear of the season. Guys that minutes are maybe in the low 20’s or in the mid 30’s. We had a game that went into double overtime, game every other day, and you know it's that balance of trying to practice, and trying to keep developing, and also taking care of your body. You know it's a grind but I think the biggest thing and the best thing to look forward to is we got guys coming back and that I think the more games and more minutes they get under their belt it allows everybody to kind of settle in. You know I think we’re going in the right direction but we definitely have a long way to go and I think we’ll settle in as those guys come back.” (Warriors PR)
• Andrew Wiggins postgame on how his first game back was: “Felt good…being out there battling with my guys, playing basketball.”
• On if he felt it was a rusty game: “It was. It was. Just got a little rusty out there, just get my feet right…it’s gonna take a little bit of time.”
• On any specific thing was rusty: “Just a step slow.”
• On sitting out that long: “It’s not fun…You miss just being around the guys.
• On getting sick after healing from the adductor: “Everyone in my house got sick, right when I was about to come back…a little setback. We’re all better now.”
• On how the team is doing since New York: “The team has had a lot of growth…high-level basketball…defending like crazy…I was at home watching it.”
• On approach towards minutes restriction: “I’m not really too sure…when they think I’m ready…each game probably a little bit more…until I’m normal.”
• On if he has a sense of how long it will take: “I don’t think it’ll be long. I’ll be back next game, right?”
• On how he felt before the injury; “Amazing…every shot that I shot felt like it was going in.”
• On if he felt it would be a short absence: “I just felt it was tight. Seemed to be a little more.”
• On if he felt the injury lasted longer than he thought: “Maybe a little longer than I thought…ended up being a little bit more so now I’m just trying to get my rhythm back.”
• On what it’s like to have guys get back cut them go out: “That’s what it’s like in the NBA…part of the game. Everyone just has to stay ready…we can only control what we can control.”
• On any hesitance: “I don’t. I practiced hard, I rehabbed hard. I trust the medical staff…mutual decision.”
• Anthony Lamb postgame recap: “we’ll make a couple good plays…we’re not stringing together for longer stretches…one slip-up…in our last three games…why the games are so close…can they over the hump.”
• On the 58 three attempts: “bunch of wide-open shots…if that’s their game plan…Golden State Warriors…next time I get that look I’m gonna hit them.”
• On the 22-point first half: “I’ve had great first halves…put a whole game together…I have a bunch of guys that can lead that example…get over that hump myself…they’re gonna be looking for you in the second half.”
• On having Wiggins and Iguodala back: “awesome…like a dream for me, watching them growing up…unbelievable experience…the rust isn’t gonna last for long.”
• On shooting 40% on threes this year: “I just work…put my head down…stay in that lane. Sometimes I get out of it, but most of the time.”
• On if he’s proved himself into an NBA contract: “It’s not even really about proving myself…I view the Warriors as the best team in the NBA…I grew up watching the Warriors…I want to help us in whatever way I can…to get back to that point…I don’t want to have a great night on a losing team.”
• On what part of his game to improve: “defensively being able to be as versatile as possible…not comfortable with…clean up…be a solid defender in any spot.”
• Steve Kerr postgame on the injury to Klay: “Got sore during warmups…training staff…precautionary reasons…training staff said we’re gonna keep him out.”
• On the Magic: “They took it to us…downhill…we didn’t have much of a response, couldn’t get the crowd into it…they controlled the whole game…they dominated.”
• On Klay and if this was something that might arise: “major injuries…stuff like this happens…more susceptible to aches and pains…something we just have to deal with.”
• On the 58 three attempts: “We didn’t do a great job of getting by them. Their defense was excellent…couldn’t get many rotations…launching some threes that are less than ideal…injecting them (Iguodala, Wiggins) back into the lineup…rust.”
• On the rust, Andre’s turnovers not knowing where guys will be: last game in the Finals…Wiggins missed 15 games.
• On Lamb: “gave us a chance…I liked where we were at halftime.”
• Braxton Barefoot (12-year-old honorary Make-A-Wish coach) on his favorite moment: when Donte DiVincenzo got hot.
• Andrew Wiggins is going to start tonight. He’ll be under a minutes restriction. At pregame presser, Steve Kerr said they’ll play him in “short spurts”. Donte DiVincenzo to the bench. Warriors starters: Poole, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, Looney. (Madeline Kenney, John Dickinson, Dalton Johnson)
• Braxton Barefoot, a 12-year-old from North Carolina, gets to help Steve Kerr coach for the night against the Magic to fulfill his Make-A-Wish SF dream. Braxton says his favorite player is Steph Curry and his best memory of the day so far is shaking Paolo Banchero's hand. His coaching advice? “Play hard and play with everything we have.” (Janie McCauley, Dalton Johnson)
• On Steph Curry’s first practice yesterday: He’ll get more work in this weekend. “He’s coming along well.” (Madeline Kenney)
• More Draymond Green quotes via Shayna Rubin on the fouling, possibly after the Pistons game in the locker room: https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/01/08/the-warriors-alarming-foul-discrepancy-so-many-on-them-so-few-on-opponents/ [hyperlinking is still not working on mobile browser for Substack sites]
There’s little consistency in how and when they’re called, they say. So they’re not at all shocked that they’ve gotten an uneven whistle this year.
“Not surprising,” Draymond Green said. “It feels that way when you’re playing, it’s not quite as far as the foul count or free throw count. But we have to take some responsibility.”
“I think we take responsibility in the way we’re defending,” Green said. “There are times we can get a little handsy. Not using our hands as much. We have to take some responsibility in it.
“At the same time, it’s a little alarming.”
Andre Iguodala was a little more up front. When his podcast co-host Evan Turner called the Warriors’ Kevin Durant era “unfair” on a recent episode of their Point Forward podcast, Iguodala responded to say the Warriors are still being punished for Durant’s move to Golden State.
“We still don’t get no calls, though,” Iguodala said.
“I’ve always been one with the referees so, my relationship with them has always been the same,” he said. “I don’t think it’s much of a difference for me. That’s just me.”
But that relationship has given him perspective on the referees’ power over players.
“Accountability has been an issue when it comes to referees and players since the beginning of time,” he said. “When you give one person power over another person, more likely than not the moment they can exercise that power, they will. That’s a situation where we’re given no power in the situation.”
“Refereeing is a job done by humans, so being as its a job done by humans it will never be fair. That’s the nature of what it is. Human beings have emotions, human beings have mistakes. Unless we change it to robots, it’ll never be fair.”
• More Draymond, possibly from the locker room after the Pistons game (he got ejected from), via Shayna Rubin: https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/01/04/draymond-green-tried-to-de-escalate-isaiah-stewart-tiff-before-ejection-i-said-chill-out-bro/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_content=tw-mercnews&utm_medium=social
And this one was unwarranted, if you ask Green and his coach. A Pistons 3-pointer had just stretched their lead over the Warriors to five when Detroit center Isaiah Stewart and Green got tangled up on a box-out. Stewart grabbed Green by the jersey and pulled him in, at which point Green says he tried to de-escalate the altercation. Green didn’t retaliate.
“I said, ‘Chill out, bro. Chill out, bro.’ I’m on that type of time, ‘Chill out, bro. Chill out, bro,'” Green said.
“Make a choice, make a decision. One thing I can guarantee you: It wasn’t a double tech so just make a choice. That’s it.”
“I’m going to get suspended for a game anyways because of what’s happened in the past with referees so you stop talking to him, you still get techs,” he said. “So I’m going to get suspended anyway. It is what it is.”
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