Harrison Barnes Gets First Crack as Mark Jackson Experiments with Starting Lineups

ONTARIO, Calif. — Mark Jackson said he’s not into playing mind games. If he knew who his starters were for the season, he would just say it. He doesn’t, he assured. He’s still trying to figure out which lineup gives his Warriors the best chance to win.

It is with that context he revealed guard Klay Thompson, who has started 122 consecutive games with Golden State (including playoffs), will come off the bench for tonight’s preseason opener.

Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala will start in the backcourt, with Harrison Barnes, David Lee and center Andrew Bogut will start against the Los Angeles Lakers at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Is this insight into Jackson’s first choice, or is this his I’m-not-going-to-show-my-cards-early lineup? Is he anointing Barnes or motivating Thompson? Has Iguodala an automatic starter?

“Truthfully,” Jackson said, “there is zero to read into it.”

The Warriors, who have all five starters from last season, found themselves with a good problem to have by acquiring Iguodala — giving them six players capable of starting.

Curry, Lee and Bogut are etched in stone as long as they’re healthy, per Jackson. That leaves three wing players and two starting spots available. Jackson said he will use the preseason to experiment, figure out which five is the best fit. The odd man out will serve as the sixth man.

He said Thompson will get a chance to start this preseason. He also suggested you may see Iguodala come off the bench at some point in the exhibition.

“Don’t read anything into it,” Jackson reiterated. “It’s just the way we’re starting tonight. You could go either way. Klay and Iguodala (starting) or Klay and Barnes. … All those guys are going to play a lot. This is just the way I’m starting tonight.”

Here is a break down of each scenario:

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Draymond Green Keeping the Warriors on Their Toes

David Lee broke it down simply. Lee told second-year forward Draymond Green he wasn’t doing his job if Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights and even Lee himself wasn’t mad at him every few days.

Green’s response? Duh.

“That was already my plan anyway,” Green said, flashing his bright, devious smile. “So I didn’t need him to tell me.”

If Green has something to say about it, the Warriors won’t have a problem with complacency. Whatever success they have won’t soften them, nor will accolades cause them to

Because as soon as they get to practice, they will have to deal with Green. He’s loud. He’s tough. He’s versatile in his skill. Most important, he relishes the role of providing the checks and balances on the court.

“I don’t care who you are or what you do, I’m going to go at you,” he said after Friday’s practice. “I may not be the one guarding you but I’m going to say something. You can always do more. I feel like the sky is the limit for this team so there is always more that can be done. You may have had 30 yesterday. But you come into practice today and I’m getting after you. If it’s D-Lee or whoever it is, I’mma get at you.”

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Warriors’ Camp Proving Intense, Competitive

Toney Douglas played college ball in the vaunted ACC and cut his NBA teeth playing home games at Madison Square Garden. And he makes his living on the defensive end of the court. So he knows something about intensity.

His comments about Warriors practices, following Day 3 of training camp on Monday, comes with that context.

“Oh yeah. Every possession,” said Douglas, who signed with the Warriors in July to back-up Stephen Curry. “This is a different level. … We’re so deep. We have like 12 guys who could play. Blue team against white team, and we go at each other We make it fun and we make each other better.”

Coach Mark Jackson said being two deep at every possession, with some capable talent at the end of the bench, has made for some competitive practices.  The drop off in talent on the depth chart is minimal enough to force the best players to go hard, yet the gap is wide enough to make the reserves have to step it up to earn minutes.

You better believe Curry has his hands full in practice, either being hounded by the pesky Douglas or trying to get around the long and athletic Kent Bazemore. Veteran center Jermaine O’Neal described going up against starting center Andrew Bogut as “a wrestling match.”

Forward David Lee and Marreese Speights, former Florida Gators, are buddies with a history of going at each other, and Speights has the skills to make Lee look bad if he doesn’t bring it. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are both having to contend with the All-NBA-caliber defense of Andre Iguodala.

And you know whoever second-year work horse Draymond Green gets matched up with is getting the business.

“We were an extremely hard working team in the past, and we’re continuing that,” Jackson said. “The difference right now is probably the battles at every position. … I think that’s what stands out the most. Last year we had young guys facing Bogut or David. … This year, there are big live bodies that are really competing and attacking one another.”

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Skinny Warriors looking to pick up the pace

Andrew Bogut has lost about 15 to 18 pounds. Draymond Green shed about 20. David Lee is now looking like he should be standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch. Jermaine O’Neal is hardly looking like a guy entering his 18th season.

Clearly, the Warriors took advantage of the offseason. The improved conditioning has already impacted training camp. The pace is faster. The energy is high.

“They are in shape,” coach Mark Jackson said, “and now its just a question of developing chemistry and a sense of what we are trying to do on both ends of the court.”

He wants the Warriors to play at an even faster pace now that all are healthy and his big men are conditioned to run. Jackson said he isn’t content with just going small to pick up the pace. But he wants to run even with his big men in the game.

Jackson said since his guys – most of whom have been working out in Oakland since early September – came to camp in shape, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He said there’s no need to go “White Shadow” on them and have them running lines.

Instead, Jackson has already begun diving into the playbook.

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Warriors Survive and Advance, Finish off Nuggets 4-2

By Marcus Thompson II


OAKLAND — It might’ve taken all the defibrillators in the Bay Area to revive the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena whose hearts stopped Thursday.

Golden State nearly squandered an 18-point lead, and another star-like performance from point guard Stephen Curry — who changed the tide of the game with another big third quarter before his home crowd. But in the end, after a compilation of turnovers, guard Jarrett Jack made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, clinching the riveting first-round upset, 4-2.

The sixth-seeded Warriors advance to the second round against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday in Texas.

“When we were down in the first half,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor. And what will happen is everybody else will follow you. And sure enough …”

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Game 1 Rewind: Warriors Narrowly Miss Upset

Golden State did exactly what it wanted to do: slow down the NBA’s best transition team. Only problem with that was that put it put Andre Miller in play.

Golden State was on the verge of stealing Game 1, despite a subpar performance from Stephen Curry and an injury to David Lee. But Miller broke their hearts with a driving layup with 1.2 seconds left, handing the Warriors a 97-95 defeat, souring an otherwise gutsy performance.

JARRETT JACK: “We’re not into moral victories. In a simple phrase, we played good enough to lose.”

The Warriors’ defense contained speedy Denver point guard Ty Lawson and silenced forward Andre Iguodala, holding the Nuggets 11 points below their average. But Golden State couldn’t come up with an answer for Miller. He scored 18 of Denver’s 26 fourth-quarter points and finished with a game-high 28, taking advantage of the one-on-one defense he faced.

It was a dramatic end and a riveting start to a series most expect to be highly entertaining. The Warriors, even with the loss, head into Game 2 on Tuesday with plenty reasons to be confident.

“I thought we did some things very well,” coach Mark Jackson said. “What I told my team was that nobody came in here thinking that we were going to sweep the Denver Nuggets. You have tow in four games to advance and you can’t act like it’s over. So take the blow and be ready to make adjustments and respond.”

More on the Game 1 loss …

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A Breakdown of the Matchups: Warriors v. Nuggets

Game 1 of the Warriors-Nuggets playoff series tips off Saturday afternoon. It figures to be the epitome of Western Conference basketball. Both teams have skill and depth, which will make for an interesting chess match between Denver coach George Karl and Golden State’s Mark Jackson.

Neither team has the A-list star to carry them to the next round. That puts added emphasis on the plethora of interesting match-ups featured in this series. Throw in some injury issues, experience gaps and crazy home courts, and you’ve got the makings of something riveting.

Here’s a look at the key match-ups in the series and who has the advantage.

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