What the Watch For – Game 11

To most of you fans who keep sending well wishes and asking questions about his ankle, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is on to you.

He knows you don’t really care. He knows you’re angle. He reads you like the defense and has picked your strategy apart.

CURRY: “Really the only thing people are worried about are just fantasy teams. Asking me when I’m going to be back because they had a trade request and they don’t know whether they should pull the trigger or not. I’ve got two point guards and I’m trying to see if I’m playing you tonight. All that kind of stuff. That’s the most of it. You still get some fans that are really concerned about the injury and my future. But it’s kind of funny how much fantasy basketball plays into the equation. It’s funny to see how many people have conversations on how disappointed they are in me for not being on the floor.” 

Clearly, Curry was in good spirits at shootaround Saturday. No, he’s not playing. But he said he was feeling good because his return appears imminent.

Though he wouldn’t say it definitively, Curry (as I reported last week) is eyeing Tuesday at Cleveland. He was never going to play tonight and was holding out hope for Sunday at Detroit. Curry said if this was a couple weeks ago, when his mindset was more about getting back on the court, he would play tonight. But now he said he’s focused on getting this ankle thing solved once and for all.

MARK JACKSON: “He understands we need him. He’s hungry and desperate to play. But the most important thing is to have him for the long haul.”

Here is Curry giving the update on his ankle.

Here are some things to watch for tonight.

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“Kwame Brown Isn’t Walking Through That Door”

To be sure, coach Mark Jackson didn’t say that line about Kwame Brown. The credit for that goes to @cbgreatjersey on Twitter.

But Jackson, basically, suggested such when talking about Earl Barron, the center who will replace Brown’s spot in the lineup. When asked if Brown will be expected to fill the void left by Kwame, Jackson channeled the essence then-Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino’s famous line.

JACKSON: “We’re not going to find Kwame Brown right now, or a Kwame Brown type player. … The guy does everything you ask. He’s a force defensively. He’s as good a one-on-one post defender, outstsanding pick-and-roll defender. You don’t find guys like that. … He’s obviously not a post scorer, but does everything you want a big man to do.”

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Hack-a-Howard Didn’t Go Over So Well in the Locker Either

Warriors coach Mark Jackson has no shortage of critics regarding his decision to foul Dwight Howard intentionally so often Thursday night, leading to Howard taking an NBA-record 39 free throws. Safe to say the plan backfired as Howard finished with 45 points, 21 coming from the free throw line.

Fans and analysts alike were puzzled at Jackson’s strategy.

TNT’S KENNY SMITH: “Hack-a-Shaq was an effective (strategy) because the Lakers were a great team.  So to stay with them, that was a good method.  The Orlando Magic aren’t a good enough team that you have to foul Dwight Howard every time.”

But a few others were puzzled by Jackson’s decision. And they were in the Warriors’ locker room.

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Warriors Waive PG Ish Smith

Golden State just announce it has waived PG Ish Smith.

The Warriors need to clear up a roster spot. They were at the maximum of 15 and, with the injury to center Kwame Brown, needed to add another big man.

Smith was the obvious choice, as Golden State has three point guards ahead of him: Stephen Curry, Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson (not to mention part-time point guard) Monta Ellis.

Smith, 23, appeared in six games, averaging 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 12.6 minutes.  He even started once and looked pretty good.

The worst part about Smith being waived? It was right before he got the chance to play in his hometown. The Charlotte native now won’t be on the team for Saturday’s game at the Bobcats.



What to Watch For – Game 10

With no Kwame Brown, it makes sense that you’d see a lot of Andris Biedrins tonight.

But Biedrins averages just under 14 minutes. Plus he’s coming off a three-game stint on the shelf thanks to a sprained right ankle. And he’s guarding Dwight Howard, which could very well lead to a foul-plagued night. So don’t be surprised if Biedrins does not see a huge spike in minutes.

But though Warriors coach Mark Jackson may not have another true center on the roster, he does have a couple options.

Forward Ekpe Udoh is easily the best defender left on the frontline. He has the added ability to make Howard play some defense. Remember last year in Orlando when Ekpe put a few good moves on Howard? Look for Udoh to get his run at Superman II.

Jackson can also use David Lee. Arguably Lee’s best game last year was at Oracle againstOrlando. He did a surprisingly good job defending Howard.

Here are a few more things to watch for tonight.

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Warriors C Kwame Brown Maybe Done for the Season

Kwame Brown will have to undergo surgery, the team announced today, that will keep him out at east three months. That puts Brown’s return well into April, barring no setbacks. The regular season ends for the Warriors on April 26.

The MRI performed yesterday revealed a torn pectoralis major (the large chest muscle that attaches to his right shoulder). Surgery has not been scheduled, but it is expected in the next few day.

LARRY RILEY (in release): “Obviously, we’re very disappointed, especially for Kwame, who was playing extremely well and had worked diligently since his arrival. In a short time, he had proven to be the anchor to our low post defense and certainly lived up to his reputation as one of the top interior defenders in the NBA.  He had provided us a big, physical presence in the middle, which is something that we’ve lacked in the past.  Unfortunately, surgery of this nature typically requires, approximately, a three-month recovery period.”

The injury occurred at the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter during the Warriors’ game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday when he fouled Udonis Haslem.

Brown, 29, was averaging 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.  He started each of the team’s last three games, averaging 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in those contests.

Golden State, down to just center Andris Biedrins, may have to go get a big man. That could mean the end of point guard Ish Smith’s stint with the Warriors. Golden State is currently at the maximum of 15 players, which means they would need to waive someone. Smith is the most likely option since the Warriors have three point guards (Stephen Curry, Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson), not including Monta Ellis, who spends some time at point guard.

Who is available? Hilton Armstrong (playing in France), Earl Barron (waived by Portland just before start of the season), former Warriors center Chris Hunter (waived by Knicks on Christmas Eve), Dwayne Jones (who got called up several times from the DLeague) and D.J. Mbenga (another former Warrior).

UPDATE: Excellent point by FloorBurn in that the Warriors could re-visit Kyrylo Fesenko. He was still recovering from his injury, I’m told, the last time the Warriors worked him out. Maybe he’s that much better now. He certainly brings some of the physicality the Warriors liked in Kwame.