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What to Watch For – Game 6

At about 5 a.m. Monday, David Lee woke up feeling miserable. He spent much of the next several hours hovered over a toilet as his body flushed out whatever the hell was inside him.

Eventually, at about 11 a.m., Lee decided it was time to get checked out. He wound up in the hospital. He had four bags of fluids pumped into him.

Lee said he’s never felt so terrible. 

Remember the ordeal he went through last season? The ink acetates elbow that got infected, causing excruciating pain and jeopardized his playing career? Yeah, Lee said this was 50 times worse.

LEE: “This  was crazy. I knew it wasn’t going to last that long, but oh my God.”

Fortunately for Lee and the Warriors, it didn’t last. You can expect Lee to play tonight against San Antonio. He participated in shootaround Wednesday morning. He said he watched the game Monday and was “frustrated to say the least.” 

Lee won’t be 100 percent, as his body is still recuperating. But he said whatever he can bring, he will bring it.

LEE: “I feel like just being out there puts more leadership on the floor, puts another veteran body out on the court. I think I’ll be able to contribute.”

Keep an eye on Lee’s energy level and minutes. Mark Jackson may have him on a short leash, playing in spurts. Here are other things to watch for tonight:

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Ekpe Udoh’s production: My prediction for a breakout year from Ekpe isn’t looking good thus far. Let’s see if he steps it up. With Lee at least limited, Udoh will have an opportunity.

He will need to rebound much better (he’s had more than 4 rebounds in just one game so far). He will need to protect the basket with reckless abandon (one block this season). And it would be nice if a few more of those clever post moves ended with a made basket.

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If Brandon Rush scores in double-figures: So far, Rush has been consistently inconsistent on offense. He has yet to score 10 or more in consecutive games. 

So far, his solid offensive performances (12 vs. Clippers, 19 vs. New York) have been followed by duds (5 points vs. Chicago, 4 points vs. Philadelphia, 3-for-12 shooting combined in both games). 

Last game, Rush had 13 on 5 of 11 shooting.

To be sure, Rush has been consistently solid on defense. And that’s what matters most to Mark Jackson, so Rush shouldn’t see a decline in minutes. 

JACKSON: “I like what he’s doing. He defends. He rebounds. Doesn’t make mistakes offensively.  I’m not concerned about guys missing shots, especially of you’re a shooter. A lot of times guys put their heads down, get a little discouraged. There is no need to do that with me. Because the bottom line  is you’re not going to be taken out because you missed shots.”

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The fight the Warriors have in them: Jackson was quick to point out “I’ve won in San Antonio.” But the Golden State franchise has lost 26 straight at San Antonio. Many of them involved the Warriors crumbling under the weight of the Spurs execution and defense. 

I’ve seen so many garbage minutes in San Antonio. The Warriors are often done by the end of the third quatter, They get desperate and start losing focus. They give up and stop executing, start chucking threes and forcing the action. That’s why they’ve lost by an average of 17.8 points during the losing streak.

Can the Warriors manage enough resolve and discipline to at least stick around until the end? If coach Mark Jackson is a master motivator, he should be able to keep his guys engaged long enough to not get blown out.

JACKSON: “This team hasn’t lost in San Antonio, so that’s the way we look at it. We look at it as another opportunity to get better.”

This figures to be a good opportunity to end the streak. The Spurs are without Manu Ginobili (broken left hand) and Tim Duncan is struggling to start this season.

Of course, in the past, that only meant Duncan was going to get back on track against the Warriors and Ginobili’s backup, or some other non-star, was going to have a career game.
 
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Who gets the nod behind Steph Curry: If Curry finds himself in foul trouble, not a reach since he’s guarding someone quicker in Tony Parker, who will Jackson turn to as the backup point guard.

Last game, Jackson went to Charles Jenkins, which was a bit of a surprise. He hadn’t played Jenkins much in the first four games. Then Monday, he went to Jenkins almost exclusively.

Ish Smith had dominated the minutes that back-up minutes the first four games.

Why the switch? Jackson said Jenkins deserved an opportunity because he’s done everything right. He also said he liked Jenkins’ poise and patience. (Reading between the lines: he’s more under control than Smith and, therefore, less mistake prone.)

Jenkins did not disappoint, especially on offense. He was 3-for-3 shooting, all jumpers while he was playing off the ball.

Marcus Thompson