Home Sports Kawakami: Warriors are No. 1 again, and now they get Kevin Durant back (how that might work)

Kawakami: Warriors are No. 1 again, and now they get Kevin Durant back (how that might work)

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			Kawakami: Warriors are No. 1 again, and now they get Kevin Durant back (how that might work)

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It matters if you win games, it matters if you don’t lose many, and it matters if you win more games than anybody else for three consecutive seasons.

It doesn’t matter as much as winning a title at the end of those seasons, of course.

But winning the most games and setting yourselves up as the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason–as the Warriors just did again, last night–is a significant accomplishment, each time.

Add it up three times in a row, each time with at least 65 wins (they’re at 65-14 now and have three games left in the regular season), and this Warriors era has already achieved something relatively historic.
No team has won more regular-season games over a three-season period than the Warriors right now.
As J.A. Adande pointed out on Twitter last night, if you don’t think that’s a big deal, then you can’t complain about teams resting players during regular-season games.

Or as I will add: You can’t scream that good teams are ruining the sanctity of the regular season by sitting stars and then turn around and say that earning the No. 1 regular-season record three straight times is meaningless.

Well, I guess screaming NBA fans can and will do that, but it’s illogical.

The regular season means exactly as much as this: You try to win the most games to get the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and the Warriors just did that. Again.

We shall see what they do with it–of course, they lost their last two playoff games at Oracle last season, including Game 7, so again, this is not the guarantee of anything.

But they got to the No. 1 seed, after making the adjustments to adding Kevin Durant to the rotation and re-working their bench and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson going through a rough shooting stretch in a tough schedule period and then adjusting to Durant missing all of March and now they’ll adjust to him coming back.

Oh, and all the times people around them shouted that everything was crashing down and the controversies would surely wreck them.

This is the full breadth of a season: How you get through the bumps and trouble spots, and, again, the Warriors did just fine again this season.

Also, if I was meaner or more motivated I’d go dig up a few of that gusher of Tweets and reactions from a few weeks ago when hundreds and hundreds of fans and media people trumpeted that the race for the No. 1 seed was over, the Spurs had already clinched it.
At the time, all I said was: There are many games left, the Warriors at the worst moment were right there with the Spurs with lots of games to go and the schedule was going to turn to their benefit, you can’t say anything for sure at this moment.
And look what happened.
It’s like people don’t understand that NBA seasons are long.
So clinching the No. 1 overall seed again isn’t the end-all, but it’s something.
I would say this about any other team, also. Most wins is most wins. That matters.

Not as much as a title, but it still matters.
* To more practical concerns… So how will Steve Kerr work Durant back into the rotation, starting Saturday vs. New Orleans?

First, Durant obviously will go back into the starting lineup–with a minutes-limit, but definitely back as a starter (Kerr has been rotating Patrick McCaw and Matt Barnes in that spot).
I could see Durant starting and then coming out four or five minutes into the game, with Andre Iguodala checking in for him. Then Durant probably will get some time later in the quarter–as Kerr has said, they’ll probably go shorter stints with him to help him get his game legs back.

Beyond that?

The real change is I could see Kerr giving Durant some minutes with the start-the-2nd-quarter unit, which has flourished during their current 13-game winning streak but still can run into some offensive trouble, especially against the good teams.

Durant with the start-the-second/fourth-quarter unit was the rotation in the early-season, but Kerr switched that to give Durant more minutes in the first and third quarters with Curry… and also it wasn’t really working with Durant-Klay/Iguodala-Draymond-Livingston-David West in December-January.

Things have been juggled since then, and Durant might be a strong option back in that group to start the second and fourth quarters, especially in the playoffs.

Right now, that group is usually: Klay Thompson, Ian Clark, Andre Iguodala, Matt Barnes and West.

Now, with Curry going so hot, I could envision Kerr splitting the two superstars a little more, as was the original two-superstar plan in October.

The way to do that is to put Durant with the start-the-second/fourth-quarter units, which is when Curry gets his big blocs of rest (usually 6+ minutes in the second quarter and at least 5+ minutes in the fourth).
Recently, Iguodala has given that unit more offense than anybody expected, and could possibly just keep motoring through the playoffs at this incredibly high level.

But adding Durant to that mix gives the Warriors a monster first option for that group and also means Durant doesn’t have to do all the offensive work as long as Iguodala is going offensively. Or Klay.

The big adjustment Kerr made to that start-the-second group is taking Shaun Livingston out of it (moving Livingston to the first and third quarters alongside Curry) and giving Ian Clark and Iguodala the play-making responsibilities.

If Kerr just plops Durant in there (probably for Barnes) for four or five minutes at a time, takes Durant out for a bit, then lets him finish the halves with the first unit…

I think that would not be a terrible Warriors plan. They’ll have a lot of different options, they have all this firepower, but this is one way to do it. We’ll see if that’s how they start with it.

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