Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweeted before last night's game that there's still a possibility that Harrison Barnes could make his return to the court for the Golden State Warriors' highly-anticipated game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day.
Barnes has missed the last 11 games since suffering an ankle injury on November 27, just a few days before the Warriors embarked upon their grueling seven-game road trip.
Warriors Harrison Barnes (ankle) has a slight chance of playing Friday vs Cavs, but a return vs. Kings on Monday more likely, source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) December 24, 2015
Having lost only one game there certainly isn't any rush to bring Barnes back now, but with the Cavs coming to town for a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals there is one concern: who should guard LeBron James?
Warriors veteran Brandon Rush has filled in for Barnes admirably for the last 11 games — arguably even better than most people expected — but figuring out how to guard LeBron is a challenge that might be beyond his capabilities. That raises the question of whether Warriors coach Luke Walton should change the starting lineup to insert 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, who did about as well against James during the Finals as anyone could possibly expect.
ESPN's Ethan Strauss reported in a tweet last night that Walton intends to keep the same starting lineup despite the matchup.
Walton indicated that GSW probably runs the same starting lineup on XMas. I'm guessing they'll change their minds and start Andre— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 24, 2015
Not a playoff game, but I think you need to maximize Andre's time spent guarding LeBron -- especially with Barnes out— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 24, 2015
Just as the Warriors ended up doing in the Finals, it seems imperative that Iguodala has to guard James and that would seem even more true if Barnes is unavailable to play. It would be a wonderful story if Rush remained in the lineup and held his own, but this is LeBron we're talking about and it's clear the Cavs have revenge on their minds.
Of course, it's just December — maybe the Warriors should just play it as though it really is just another game.
Draymond on the meaning of the XMas game: "We’ll either finish that game 28 and 1 or 27 and 2. That’s about it."— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 24, 2015