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Murph: How to prioritize Warriors’ worries with Kevin Durant out



It’s been one week to the day since Marcin Gortat threw Zaza Pachulia into Kevin Durant’s knee — The Zaza Chuck Heard ‘Round the World — and I think we’re all just now coming to our senses, as if it took this long to comprehend, time serving as the smelling salt to jerk us awake.

Well, time and two consecutive losses. That’ll jerk you awake.

It’s incredible to think the Golden State Warriors, a franchise once so besotted with putridity that it was one of the saddest in all of North American sports, caused a ripple of mild panic when they lost back-to-back games in Washington and Chicago last week.

Back-to-back losses! That used to be a starter set for monthly eight-game losing streaks in the Cohan era.

Clearly, everything has changed, and with it, microscopic scrutiny of every Warriors game from now until Game 82. The Durant injury means the race for the No. 1 seed is a pennant race with the San Antonio Spurs, a chance to check the out-of-town scoreboard like you’re at the Polo Grounds in the 1950s.

Your handy check-up for this week: Dubs host Boston Wednesday night; same night Spurs host Sacramento (gulp); Spurs travel to Oklahoma City Thursday (yes!), while Dubs fly to Minnesota Friday night (travel; blecch.)

Then, they meet on Saturday. (Cue dramatic music.)

Now the question is: How to Prioritize Your Warriors Focus In the Non-KD Era? In other words, who/what is most important to getting through this KD-less stretch? I’d offer the following, in order of importance.


Hello, Mr. Back-to-Back NBA MVP. All we’re asking is that you kinda/sorta play like that again. Like, every game. No pressure, dude.

The nutty thing is, take a few of Steph’s stats this year — 24.9 points per game, 53 percent on two-point field goals, 4.6 free throws attempted. Each of those numbers is better than his 2014-15 MVP season. His 2015-16 season — 30.1 points per game, 56 percent on twos, 45.4 percent from 3 point land, etc, was so scary good, it’s almost impossible to replicate. But the point is, he’s having an outstanding year, and is currently 6th in basketball reference.com’s NBA MVP tracker.

Bottom line: Steph is shooting 39.9 from 3-point land this year, his worst mark in the last three years. You could argue the dynamic has changed to cause those misses, or his looks have changed in the Durant Era to cause those misses, but to my eye, his looks are as good as ever. He’s just not making them.

He’s due for a flurry. Like, now.


The simmering sizzle that is Draymond Green will be closely monitored while K.D. ices his knee. In the past week alone, Day Day has revved hot over Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s apparent dis of Green’s skill set, and over the New York Knicks’ decision not to fire tee shirts out of cannons on Segways during time outs.

Gotta love Draymond. There is no day his feet hit the floor without him thinking, “Who or what can piss me off today?”

The key, of course, is to walk that line. No silly technical fouls that could lead to a critical one-game suspension. No flailing of the legs to draw the NBA’s ire. Find that sweet spot where he and Steve Kerr get all neck-veiny with each other, and yet still go out for burgers after the game.

The Dubs will need Day Day to be that fire starter, more than ever, until his buddy Slim, as he called him, comes back. Just no raging infernos that burn the 1-seed to the ground.


If the Warriors can bring back Matt Barnes and stir all our ‘We Believe’ tee shirts out of mothballs, why not bring back last year’s motto while we’re at it?

Monday night’s win in Atlanta was a 2015-16 special, with Andre Iguodala, Ian Clark, David West and Patrick McCaw playing the roles of Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, Mo Speights and Harrison Barnes.

The Warriors made it through the first 60 games as the “Four All-Stars Mafia”. Now, with KD out, time to break out those “Strength in Numbers” tees and hashtags. If the Warriors are going to hold off the Spurs, each of those gents will need to increase his confidence, his shotmaking, his defense and his productive minutes.

Starting Saturday in San Antonio. ‘Cause this thing is getting real.