Home is an oasis for the Warriors. So this upcoming mini home stand off a three-game losing road trip should be something the team is looking forward to.
But the two-game home stand won’t be easy. They have Giannis Antetokounmpo and the first-place Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and Western Conference rival Phoenix Suns shortly after on Monday before they set off on the dreaded road again.
No team in the NBA has a more drastic split between home and away records than the Warriors: They’re 27-7 at Chase Center and 7-27 on the road this season. Sitting in a three-way tie for the sixth seed as of Friday night, a trip home to play two of the league’s top teams could either galvanize a frustrated Golden State locker room or send them into an extended losing streak they can’t afford with just 14 games remaining in the regular season.
“Got more games in the schedule to keep figuring it out,” Steph Curry said after their loss to Memphis on Thursday. “Part of how we got here was fighting through each year, whatever the challenges were, even though scenarios are a little different, context is different, but again, maintaining the hope that we have enough in this locker room until it’s proven that we don’t or we do.
“That’s all we can do as players at this point, that’s why we show up every day.”
Can things go right? Here’s how they match up against the Bucks and Suns.
The Bucks have MVP Antetokounmpo listed as questionable on the injury report as of Friday with right hand soreness. He missed Thursday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets with a similar injury, so it’s possible the superstar will miss the Warriors matchup.
But the Warriors will have their hands full if Antetokounmpo plays. Draymond Green, who is dealing with a left hand injury, is one of few players on the roster — healthy or present — who can defend Antetokounmpo and provide much size to a completely depleted frontcourt.
Part of yet another slow start in Thursday’s loss stemmed from head coach Steve Kerr opting to start four guards — Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson and Donte DiVincenzo. Kerr admitted the decision was “too cute.” But the staff is running with limited frontcourt options.
Andrew Wiggins’ status is still unknown as he tends to personal issues. Jonathan Kuminga injured his ankle during warmups in Memphis and could miss more games moving forward. Golden State has a size issue that will be exacerbated if Antetokounmpo takes the court.
Curry in particular will have to deal Jrue Holiday, one of the better Curry defenders where very few exist. Curry is averaging 32 points and shooting 51.4% from 3 since his return from injury on March 5 and fueled all their comebacks that erased double-digit deficits. But opposing defenses have managed to temper the comebacks — the Grizzlies sealed their win on Thursday by forcing the ball out of Curry’s hands as much as possible.
The Warriors are 0-1 against the Bucks this season, losing to them in Milwaukee in December. The Bucks sit in first place of the Eastern Conference on the back of a recent 17-game win streak.
The Suns aren’t as scary as they were a few days ago. Kevin Durant will miss Monday’s game after suffering an ankle sprain during warmups on Wednesday.
Durant has played the Warriors at Chase Center once during his 1-1/2 year tenure with the Brooklyn Nets, but it was without fans in the stands due to the COVID-19 restrictions. He watched injured from the bench during Brooklyn’s two other visits to the Bay Area. So Bay Area fans have yet to watch Durant live since he suited up for Golden State in the 2019 Western Conference semifinals at Oracle Arena.
His absence leaves the Suns without one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers. An obvious loss for Phoenix and advantage for the Warriors.
Phoenix gave up a lot of their depth to land Durant, including Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Bridges, now with Brooklyn, has been a tough perimeter defender and has had plenty of battles against Curry.
But the Suns have All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul to lead the charge along with former Warrior Damion Lee, who torched Golden State for 22 points (including 14 free throws) in their last match up in January.
The Warriors are 0-3 against Phoenix this season, including one loss at home. The Suns have won four straight and are in the Western Conference’s fourth seed.