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Kevin Durant is confident Golden State’s struggles down the stretch might be just what makes the defending champions dominant on the postseason stage again.
Maybe not quite 16-1 this time around http://www.patriotsauthorizedshop.com/authentic-adrian-clayborn-jersey , sure, yet plenty capable of another remarkable run.
”I always knew everybody on our team had a good spirit, a good energy for the game,” said Durant, the reigning NBA Finals MVP. ”We might have lost some games and had some tough stretches but that doesn’t define everybody here as an individual player. I’m kind of positive on, optimistic on each of these guys and how we approach the game no matter what the score of some of those games. I’m glad we can kind of learn from those tough times and continue to move forward.”
The Warriors have been hurt and humbled. Beaten handily and beat up hard. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is expected to be sidelined the entire first round with a knee injury. Four All-Stars – Curry, Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – were out together at times, too.
On Saturday afternoon, Golden State begins its championship quest with Game 1 of the best-of-seven first round against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena.
”We learned a lot,” coach Steve Kerr said. ”Every experience that you gain you can learn from. This has been such a chaotic month with all the injuries and the meaningless games. We’ve been frustrated. We haven’t performed very well. The good news is we have performed well for four years, so we know who we are. We know what we’re about. We know this team well Cheap Justin Jones Jersey , we know the Spurs well, so we know what we have to do. We’ve got to go do it. The last month is meaningless now. Everything starts over.”
Some of that is what Kerr gained from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: ”You take whatever is in front of you and you embrace it.”
Here are some key story lines for the Spurs-Warriors series, a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals swept by Golden State:
A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP
Kerr hardly played during four seasons with San Antonio late in his career.
Still, Popovich is one of his favorite people – even if he wants nothing more than to eliminate his dear friend.
”Pop doesn’t like to see me lose. I like to see him lose. He’s had way too much success already,” Kerr cracked. ”I think sometimes Pop needs to be humbled a little bit. So I’m looking to really rub it in and enjoy if we’re able to beat them.”
Kerr added: ”I want Pop to win against anybody else. We’re that close. He’s my mentor and he’s somebody I feel incredibly strongly about in terms of who he is and what he did for me in my life, and what he’s doing for my son right now.”
NO CURRY OR KAWHI
Golden State has gone without Curry for 16 of the last 17 games as he worked back from another injury to his troublesome right ankle only to sprain the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in his return March 23.
Curry is scheduled to be re-evaluated Saturday yet Kerr noted that ”he’s not close to playing.”
The Warriors also aren’t expecting to see Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. He played in only nine regular-season games because of a lingering right quadriceps injury.
Durant and Green insist it’s time to start taking defense more seriously.
”Now we can focus in on what we always do good here, it’s flying around on defense, moving the basketball,” Durant said.
The Spurs realize the challenges.
”They are smart, they are long,” Manu Ginobili said. ”They are very quick to switch back to the matchups they want. They’ve got a lot of long wings that recover very quick. … There’s a reason why they’ve been winning so many games.”
While the Warriors endured a stretch of seven losses in 10 games, the Spurs dealt with their own eight-game skid down the stretch.
And San Antonio went just 14-27 on the road.
Even if the Spurs’ 2017 series with the Warriors was swift Cheap DJ Chark Jersey , this is a fresh chance.
”It’s a new year,” LaMarcus Aldridge said. ”This team has fought and put ourselves in a position to be here. Last year is last year.”
CENTER BY COMMITTEE
It might be Zaza Pachulia. Maybe JaVale McGee. Or Kevon Looney. David West will get his minutes, too.
Each offers something uniquely different as the Warriors go with a center-by-committee approach.
Kerr isn’t saying which big man he will start – he’s not giving Popovich any early clues. And Kerr said he and Spurs staffer and son, Nick, are cutting off communication for a couple of weeks.
Zack Greinke grinned as he stepped to the plate in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon, and then swung at the first pitch for another hit.
The Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander pitched seven innings and was an offensive dynamo , too, helping to beat the Miami Marlins 4-0.
Greinke singled twice, drove in a run, stole a base and scored. No wonder he looked to be enjoying himself.
”It’s more fun when you’re doing good,” Greinke said. ”Today was a lot of good results, so it was a fun day.”
His offensive feats were impressive Dorance Armstrong Jr. Color Rush Jersey , but maybe not that surprising. He leads Arizona pitchers this year with four RBIs and four runs, raised his season average to .300, and is now 7 for 7 lifetime in steal attempts.
Greinke became the first pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1969 to have a hit, an RBI and a stolen base in at least two games in a season.
”He’s a baseball player, and I don’t say that about a lot of pitchers,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ”He probably has a better swing than 70 percent of the guys in the big leagues, and I’m serious about that.”
As for pitching, Greinke (8-5) won for the fifth time in his past six starts. He allowed seven hits – all singles – but walked none and benefited from several good defensive plays. The outing matched his longest this year.
”As the game goes, you kind of get that flat feeling,” Mattingly said. ”He was just a handful. He’s able to do some different things with the ball and change gears on you.”
Three relievers completed a 10-hitter for Arizona’s fourth shutout of the season.
Paul Goldschmidt continued his recent tear with three hits, and Nick Ahmed added two hits. Each scored and drove in a run.
The Diamondbacks (47-34) finished 8-2 on a three-city trip
”I can’t think of a day where we played bad really,” Greinke said. ”The defense was good Authentic Justin Reid Jersey , pitching was good, hitting was good, baserunning was good. It was just a lot of good things, and we never beat ourselves.”
The Diamondbacks matched their season high by climbing 13 games above .500. They won the season series against Miami 6-1.
The finale started at 9:10 a.m. Phoenix time, but the Diamondbacks were ready to go and led 3-0 by the second inning.
”The biggest thing was being ready to go on the first pitch and not sleepwalking into it,” Goldschmidt said.
Greinke helped get his teammates going. In the second he singled, easily stole second and scored on Goldschmidt’s two-out single. He added a two-out opposite-field RBI single in the sixth to make it 4-0.
Greinke improved to 7-0 in 12 games against the Marlins. At Marlins Park, he’s 6-0 in six starts with a 1.48 ERA.
Trevor Richards (2-5) allowed three runs in four innings. Miami rookie Brian Anderson went 0 for 4, ending his 24-game on-base streak, the longest active string in the National League.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Greinke on matching Gibson’s offensive feats: ”There’s a record every game. You’ve just got to look hard enough for it.”
With runners at the corners in the second, Goldschmidt charged Bryan Holaday’s grounder to first and started a nifty ending-inning double play. Right fielder Jon Jay made a catch as he slid into the wall in foul territory to rob Anderson. Second baseman Daniel Descalso committed an error in the third but made amends later in the inning by lunging to snare Starlin Castro’s sharp grounder and save a run.
Miami backup catcher Holaday had thrown out a team record nine consecutive runners attempting to steal, but Greinke got a huge jump to end the streak.
Marlins: C J.T. Realmuto (wrist) missed his third consecutive game but expects to play Friday. Miami is 26-29 when he starts and 6-21 when he doesn’t start.
After the game Authentic Daniel Kilgore Jersey , Marlins RHP Nick Wittgren was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-3, 3.24) is scheduled to start Friday when Arizona returns home to begin a weekend series against the Giants.
Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara, Miami’s top pitching prospect, will be recalled from New Orleans to start Friday against the Mets. Alcantara, acquired in the trade that sent OF Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, will make his Marlins debut. He’s 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 starts for New Orleans this year.
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