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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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Warriors’ Stephen Curry Listed in the Starting Lineup

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (sprained left ankle) was listed in the starting lineup. Coach Mark Jackson said before the game he’d be “shocked” if Curry didn’t play.

Curry, who rolled his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Friday, was officially listed as a game-time decision. He has received ’round-the-clock treatment on his left ankle, which he initially sprained in Game 2 of the first round series against Denver on April 23.

“If he’s on the court, he’s pretty much the ball handler and the guy running show,” Jackson said.

Before tipoff, Curry jumped roped in the hallway outside the locker room and did other movement tests. He then took to the court where he ran lines and did some defensive sliding movements to further test his ankle.
Jackson said he spent time with Curry on Saturday. He said Curry was the same as usual, laughing and joking. He made multiple trips to the facility on Saturday for treatment.

Curry said after Saturday’s practice, which he sat out, that he expected to play. But everything was on hold until he saw how his ankle responded overnight. Jackson said Curry can play, he won’t be limited.

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Stephen Curry Ankle Update: X-Rays Negative; Early Game A Factor in His Chances of Playing

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is a game-time decision with a sprained left ankle.
X-rays were negative, a team official said, and no MRI was scheduled. Curry is getting ‘round-the-clock treatment. Officially he’s a game-time decision. But his chances of playing are made dicey by the earlier start. Sunday’s game tips off at 12:30, giving Curry about 36 hours of rest and rehabilitation.
MARK JACKSON: “Again, as usual, just staying true to the process. He’ll get treatment all day long. I’ll stay in constant contact with him. We’ll see how he feels and make a decision whether he plays or not tomorrow.”
At the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter in Game 3, Curry, dribbling at the top, rolled his left ankle. He immediately began limping and gave up the ball. The Warriors eventually fouled to stop play, but he stayed in the game, waving off the substation.
It’s not his surgically repaired right ankle, which has given him problems the previous two seasons. It was the same ankle Curry sprained in Game 2 at Denver. It hadn’t been a problem since he got his second anti-inflammatory injection just before Game 4 at Oracle. Golden State had three days off before the Spurs series.
Curry has been the heart and soul of the Warriors (already without All-Star forward David Lee) and without him, their chances at upsetting No. 2 San Antonio appear suspect.
KLAY THOMPSON: “He’ll play. No question about it. He will play through anything. He’s got heart.”

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Predictions & Matchups: This Series Will Be Closer Than Many Think

curry
Admittedly, I underestimated Stephen Curry in the Denver series. I also overestimated the Nuggets. But I picked Denver in six mostly because I figured Curry could get 30 points and the Warriors still lose. It’s happened before.

What I didn’t account for was the impact stars make in playoffs series, good and bad. Their ability to change games, seize momentum, do the prolific, it matters so much more in the postseason. It’s not that Curry can score, it’s that he impacts nearly every single aspect of the game: how the opposing defense responds, the amount of pressure on the opposing offense to score, the confidence of the supporting cast, the looks they get, the adrenaline and feel good that helps on the defensive end, the momentum they create.

That’s what stars do in the playoffs. And Denver didn’t have that.

Such is factored into my prediction for this series: Spurs in 7.

My first impulse was to say San Antonio in five games. But I can’t shake the feeling the Warriors will win one in San Antonio. Why? Because that’s the type of thing stars pull off. And if the Warriors win one in San Antonio, this isn’t the route many are expecting. In the first meeting here, on Jan. 18, the Warriors trailed by 4 inside of three minutes – without Curry (Spurs didn’t have Manu Ginobili). In the second matchup at San Antonio, March 20, Golden State trailed by 4 inside of four minutes left. So both games were close. It’s not like this Warriors’ team can’t win in San Antonio.

Golden State is 2-0 against San Antonio in Oakland. Andrew Bogut didn’t play in either game, and Oracle wasn’t the ridiculously raucous arena it has been for the playoffs. Still, San Antonio is good enough to get one in Oracle. Especially if the Warriors steal one of the first two in San Antonio and put the Spurs in must-win mode. But will their role players be as good in such an environment?

Even if the Warriors lose the first two in San Antonio, I can certainly see the Warriors going 2-0 at Oracle and heading back to San Antonio for a pivotal Game 5.

Another reason I think this series will be close: Manu Ginobili is not the same Ginobili. He’s good enough to torch the Warriors for a big game. But over a seven-game series, his injuries and age might get the best of him. I certainly see the Warriors being able to manage him. If so, who’s the third scorer for the Spurs. It could be one of five people. But if the Warriors stay home, not fall into trapping and doubling so much, those extra guys can be held in check. After Ginobili, they’re relying on Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal for offense. So if Bogut can guard Tim Duncan and keep the Warriors’ defense honest, and Klay Thompson can hold his own against Tony Parker, the Warriors are not in bad position.

Here is an in-depth look at the match-ups:

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