Warriors guard Monta Ellis was not at practice Friday. He was back in Mississippi tending to his grandmother’s funeral. Coach Mark Jackson said he is moving forward as if Ellis will not play Saturday against Philadelphia.
JACKSON: “Family is first. He lost a grandmother who he loves dearly, and we want him to take as much as possible, or as much time that he needs, to take care of home. … Obviously, its someone he loves dearly. It’s tough. As a family of team members and staff, we’re very supportive of him and we’re there for him and his family.”
Ellis’ grandmother, Mary Cole, died on Christmas morning. She was 89. Despite her passing, Ellis played each of the first three games, including the opener Christmas night.
Golden State could be without its starting backcourt Saturday night against Philadelphia. Point guard Stephen Curry, who missed Wednesday’s game against New York, did not practice Friday. He participated in pre-practice drills and is officially listed as day-to-day.
If Curry can’t go, Ish Smith almost certainly will start again. If Ellis can’t go, the obvious choice to start in his place would be Brandon Rush. But Jackson suggested Klay Thompson could get the nod.
Thompson has seen his minutes decrease each game: from 19 against the Clippers, to 11 against Chicago, to 8 against New York. But Jackson said he still hasn’t lost confidence in his rookie swingman.
JACKSON: “I think Klay Thompson is a guy that’s due a breakout performance. He’s struggled at times. I thought he wasn’t ready the other day. But I have confidence him and I’m going to keep going to him.”
There are two obvious benefits from starting Thompson.
1. Thompson can use the confidence boost. He is no doubt looking over his shoulder, with Rush and even Dominic McGuire, doing well enough to take minutes from Thompson.
JACKSON “I believe in Klay Thompson and his ability. With young players, you’ve got to be able to expect and handle the bumps and bruises along the way. It’s a learning process. I’m not going to let go of the rope with him, so he’ll have every opportunity.”
2. It would keep Rush in the same role, coming off the bench and changing the tenor of the game. Since that’s the role he’s going to be in, why not allow him to develop consistency in that role.