First, a shout out to GSoM user CurryUpOffense for posting a FanShot with the injury update for the Warriors' game tonight against the Kings.
But let's kick off the final week of 2015 with some details on those injuries.
- We could probably debate whether Stephen Curry should play in tonight's game against the Sacramento Kings given that he missed part of Friday's game with a calf injury that he originally suffered last Wednesday against the Utah Jazz, but as of yesterday he was practicing and ready to play, according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. Chronicle.
Stephen Curry said his bruised calf feels pretty good after Sunday's practice. He hopes to be 100 percent by tomorrow's game.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 27, 2015
- We also know for sure that Leandro Barbosa will definitely be out after leaving Friday's game against the Cavs with a shoulder injury.
Leandro Barbosa has his left arm in a sling at Warriors practice. We'll get an update in a little bit.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 27, 2015
Leandro Barbosa has a sprained left shoulder and is out for tomorrow, according to the Warriors.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 27, 2015
- Harrison Barnes, however, is still listed as doubtful as he continues to recover from that nagging ankle injury — using the same logic as what was said above about Curry sitting, I'm not sure I see much purpose in playing someone at less than 100% against a sub-.500 team.
Tomorrow night vs. SAC: Harrison Barnes (sprained L ankle) is doubtful; Leandro Barbosa (L shoulder sprain) & Kevon Looney (R hip) are out— GSWStats (@gswstats) December 27, 2015
Brandon Rush's emergence
Something that I still think hasn't been talked about enough is the performance of Brandon Rush in place of Barnes. He's currently shooting a career-high 48% from the 3-point line — although he only has 50 attempts as of today and has played in only 315 minutes, his 59.5% 3-point rate is also career-high meaning he's shooting threes more often than he has at any point in his career.
- Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group had a great line about Rush, even though it was really more evidence that Curry is the best in the game.
Curry is doing what LeBron once did. As one Western Conference executive said: "All you have to do is look at Brandon Rush."
Rush is experiencing a resurrection since replacing injured Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup. Rush's true shooting percentage -- which takes into account 3-pointers, 2-pointers and free throws -- is 37 percent this season coming off the bench. Since he has joined the starting lineup, it's 71.2 percent.
"Coming off the bench, he wasn't very good," the executive said. "Put him in the lineup with Curry, all of a sudden he is a productive player. He's getting wide open shots."
That's the Curry effect.
- Sam Amick of USA Today did an outstanding job of detailing the ways in which the Warriors have underperformed in recent games, including this tidbit about Rush: "...while veteran Brandon Rush has filled in nicely – especially for a 30-year-old who has torn his ACL twice and already played more minutes this season than he did in 2014-15 – there’s simply no way he can replicate the kind of two-way impact Barnes had been having in that opening month." Amick goes on to rightfully note that Barnes' absence probably really has created the argument for whatever contract he gets this offseason.
- Curtis Uemera of SFBay.ca gave Rush a brief nod for his defensive efforts on LeBron James on Christmas.
Warriors vs. Cavs reactions
Of course there were a ton of reactions to the Warriors-Cavs game, before and after it actually happened. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
- One of the best reads about Friday's game was ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz's article about LeBron's preparation for and experience of the big game as the NBA's elder statesman, which included this gem of a conclusion: "It's a struggle to imagine that this picture of strength also harbors human frailty, and if it's hard for us, imagine what it must be for him. Over the course of any career, youthful exuberance mellows and talent grows into itself. Who knows exactly when that happened for LeBron...The emergence of Stephen Curry as NBA supernova might have been that moment, as his ascent pushes LeBron into a position of seniority. And with that comes LeBron's first brush with basketball mortality."
- Arnovitz also wrote, "...After this moment, LeBron is 0-for-9 when guarded one-on-one by Steph"... who is the clear front-runner for DPoY (he must've just forgotten the DPoY part).
Love has Steph on the switch, can't get position... Steph doesn't stop working, results in steal pic.twitter.com/djFrPhMvw1— warriorsworld (@warriorsworld) December 26, 2015
- Like Ethan Strauss said in response to Dave McMenamin's article about the Cavs feeling they found the antidote to the Warriors, I find it interesting that the Cavs made such a big deal of playing well when the Warriors entered the game without Barnes, Barbosa went down during the game, and Curry missed a part of the game with a calf injury. Shouldn't it be the Warriors leaving this game heartened?
- Adam Lauridsen of the San Jose Mercury News' Fast Break blog had the perfect retort to the notion that the Cavs, who have now lost five of their last seven games to the Warriors dating back to the Finals, have figured something out. One excerpt (ok, I'm using this because he mentioned Rush): "The Warriors made James look human â Rush's poke-away steal, Iguodala's strip on a lay-up, Green's masterful block that was so perfectly timed that the refs (wrongly) assumed it must have been a foul â and being a mere mortal doesn't seem to sit well with the King. James was gracious in defeat — personally congratulating all the Warriors after the final buzzer — but he's clearly frustrated. If the road to an NBA championship goes through Oakland, the Cavs still don't have a map to victory."
- Maggie Pilloton of Golden Gate Sports offered the retrospective that we were all either dreading or looking forward to, depending on your opinion on the Kevin Love rumors last year: how it has panned out a year later. I will fully admit that I was dead wrong on that.
- I'm going to have faith in humanity for a moment and just say that Draymond Green is a lock for the All-Star game after the way he showed up on Christmas Day, as CSN's Monte Poole wrote after Friday's game. The last time I remember seeing any Warriors player do anything like that block he had on LeBron was Chris Webber's block against the San Antonio Spurs back in the day.
block of the year tbh https://t.co/qa8EPqmoQ5— shrill your darlings (@theshrillest) December 27, 2015
Warriors vs. Cavs draws big ratings
While a fan at the arena drew some negative attention, fans at home gave the game plenty of positive attention. As we discussed in lat week's podcast, this probably wasn't going to be the most watched regular season NBA game in history given the Kobe-Shaq reunion game in 2004. But, it still ranted pretty highly.
- Paulsen of Sports Media Watch noted that, "..the Warriors' win earned the NBA's fifth-highest regular season overnight since Bulls/Knicks in March 1998 (8.0)." Consider the company that puts the Warriors in though: that Bulls/Knicks game was assumed to be Michael Jordan's final game at Madison Square Garden. As for the other four games that have drawn bigger audiences since? Take a look at Paulsen's graph: they've all been Lakers game, which obviously draw upon one of the biggest media markets on the planet. For the Warriors to even be the fifth-highest rated regular season game in almost 20 years is extremely impressive.
- Rick Kissell of Variety Magazine noted, along with Paulsen, that the game set records in both the Bay Area and Cleveland for local viewership of a NBA regular season game. Kissell also noted that the game set a record for streams with, "...a total of 34 million minutes, according to ESPN. The marquee Cleveland-Golden State contest generated 11 million total minutes streamed, the most ever for a Christmas Day game and more than every Christmas game on ABC and ESPN combined in 2014."
Athletes and social responsibility
We already talked about Steph Curry's involvement in the NBA's anti-gun violence campaign, but other Warriors have joined in the discussion as well.
- On the Warriors' plus/minus podcast with Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson, Andre Iguodala talked about the value of trying to make a change with things going on outside the world of basketball. He specifically referenced reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' book Between the World and Me, why he gave the book to Luke Walton and the value of Carmelo Anthony marching "with the people" in Baltimore during the protests there over the death of Freddie Gray.
- While Iguodala said he hasn't had much direct interaction with activists, he did say that Harrison Barnes has introduced him to activist Deray McKesson. And Barnes has been quietly making statements about matters outside of basketball.
- Draymond Green, not known for being quiet, also shared his thoughts about gun violence and the importance of raising awareness about the problem.
Random multimedia things from the last week
Delly's hall of fame display should be nothing but this video playing on a never-ending loop... https://t.co/oIWKGMJbnf— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) December 26, 2015
Steph just put Derrick Favors in a blender https://t.co/cPsgVj5vRi— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) December 24, 2015
Can team broadcasters remain credible during horrible seasons? Yes. Here are two: Jim Barnett and Tim Roye during the bad Warriors days.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 22, 2015