A DEEP STORY
Warriors use 3-point shooting advantage to knock off the Bucks
MILWAUKEE >> The Warriors faced a Bucks team that might serve as an NBA Finals preview. But that doesn’t mean the Warriors’ coach considered it significant to use this early December game as a barometer for what might happen in June.
“You know what happens if we lose? Nothing,” Kerr said before Friday’s game. “We fall another game back in the standings.”
The Warriors actually won 105-95 to reach a three-game winning streak, but Kerr’s sentiment still stands. The Warriors (18-9) might have a twogame lead over the Los Angeles Lakers (15-10) for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. That just makes Kerr roll his eyes, knowing that the NBA regular season is only a quarter finished and that his team has won three NBA championships in the past four Finals appearances.
“A game like this isn’t going to faze us,” Kerr said.
After all, the Warriors’ play was uncharacteristic of what they showed all season both for better and for worse.
The Warriors entered Friday’s game ranked 20th out of 30 NBA teams in 3-point shots attempted (29.5), a vast difference from the second-ranked Bucks (40.6). On Friday, the Warriors went 19 of 46 from 3-point range while the Bucks shot only 7 of 39 from beyond the arc.
The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, fights the Warriors’ Kevon Looney for a loose ball Friday in Milwaukee.
Not surprising, Klay Thompson (20 points, 4 of 9 from 3-point range) and Stephen Curry (20 points, 4 of 9 from 3-point range) helped with the Warriors’ outside shooting. But so did Andre Iguodala (a season-best 15 points, 3 of 6), Jonas Jerebko (12 points, 4 of 9) and Alfonzo McKinnie (nine points, 3 of 7).
“I don’t care,” Kerr said of the team’ previously low 3-point attempts. “What I care about is great shots. I want to get really good open shots. It doesn’t matter if they are from three or from two. But I want them to be good ones and in rhythm.”
The Warriors had plenty of 3-point shots in rhythm at a time when they needed it most. Warriors forward Kevin Durant had 11 points while shooting only 3 of 14 from the field and committing seven turnovers to overshadow his eight rebounds and six assists.
The Warriors committed 18 turnovers, including a few from Curry (three) and Thompson (three). The Bucks scored 56 points in the paint, including double-digit efforts from their starting lineup in Giannis Antetokounmpo (22), Malcom Brogdon (15), Eric Bledsoe (14), Brook Lopez (14) and Khris Middleton (10).
As for the 3-point shooting, though, Kerr may not stress to his team about duplicating Friday’s performance.
“I’m not entirely convinced
that math is everything. I’d rather go 6 for 12 from 2 and have the other team take the ball out of the net six times than 4 for 12 from 3 and have to deal with eight fast breaks. So there’s a reaction to everything,” Kerrr said. “I know as a player, I felt a lot more confident when half of my shots went in rather than a third, whether they were from 3 or 2. There’s a rhythm that builds with the game.”
• The Warriors did not listen to Draymond Green’s pleas to play against Milwaukee. Instead, Kerr said he expects him to play on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Oracle Arena.
Green has missed 13 of the past 15 games because of a sprained right toe in his right foot. The Warriors initially ruled Green out for Friday against Milwaukee but upgraded him to questionable following the morning shootaround. But after Green completed a pregame warmup, team medical director Rick Celebrii determined Green would still sit.
Still, Kerr said Green’s “progress has been fantastic on the latter part of this trip” after nursing pain in his toe at the beginning of the journey.
• The Warriors do not have an official timetable for when All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will return from a left Achilles tendon injury. Durant noticed something about Cousins’ progress, though, that suggests he will return soon. And Durant does not need a medical degree to notice the trend.
“He’s just a little bit louder than usual. Every time he talks a little bit more, something good has happened,” Durant said. “That’s a good sign for us.”
Kerr noticed Cousins’ increased workload during the past week when Cousins has participated in fiveon-five drills. “He’s going harder and is more capable of sustaining an effort in longer periods of time,” Kerr said.
So what is the next step for Cousins? It will entail Cousins practicing with the Warriors’ G-League team in Santa Cruz, possibly as early as next week.
“We don’t practice much just like any other NBA team since we have so many games,” Kerr said. “He needs more intense and focused practice time. Hopefully he can get some of that in Santa Cruz.”
Cousins might even play actual games in Santa Cruz, suddenly making that a marquee event for two reasons. One, Cousins’ younger brother, Jaleel, plays on the Warriors’ G-League team. Two, Cousins presumably would exert his pent-up energy and display his dominance against vastly inferior competition. The four-time All-Star could essentially complete the NBA’s version of a rehab assignment often done in Major League Baseball.
“It’s a possibility. We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Kerr said on whether Cousins would play a game in Santa Cruz. “We’ve got to help him be in the best possible shape and mindset when he first takes the floor for us. Whatever that takes.”
• Although Warriors center Damian Jones plans to rehab a surgically repaired torn pectoral muscle in six weeks, the Warriors are not expecting him to return for the remainder of the 201819 regular season.
“It doesn’t mean he’s going to play,” Kerr said. “He can begin rehabbing in six weeks. But he’s out for five or six months.”
The Warriors do not have any current plans to sign any additional centers because of pending returns to Green and Cousins.
High-flying Andre Iguodala soars for a dunk in the first half Friday. Iguodala contributed a season-best 15points in the win over Milwaukee.