How to watch
Date: Saturday April 8th.
Time: 19:30 PST | 22:30 EST | 03:30 BST
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
The New Orleans Pelicans will be visiting Oracle to test their mettle against the best of the West. While Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are slowly working out how to mesh together, the Warriors will be looking to extend their winning streak to 14 consecutive games. However, there's a much bigger story going on.
Allow me to channel my inner Jim Ross for a moment...
Warriors Clear Kevin Durant for Return, Expected to play Saturday vs Pelicans - https://t.co/jtEGGZOEsB— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 6, 2017
Good god, is that Kevin Durant’s music?
The return of Durant before the end of the regular season is a great sign for the Warriors. Although we probably shouldn't expect much from him initially, he now has three games to shake off the rust before the playoffs commence.
What isn't such a great sign is the more recent announcement regarding Stephen Curry:
Steph Curry doubtful for tomorrow with a left knee contusion. Warriors say it's minor. Didn't practice today.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 7, 2017
The odds are that this injury is code for "rest" as opposed to anything serious, so until we hear more let's refrain from panicking.
The good news for New Orleans? With the possibility of Curry being out and Durant returning from an injury, they might be able to scrape out a victory against the Warriors. It's a lucky break for a team that really needs one at the moment. The Pelicans have had it rough lately, winning only two of their last five games. Coming into this matchup it may have seemed like they were in for another bad night facing off against a Warriors squad that has returned to form, in large part thanks to a magical toaster.
Now, however, the Pelicans have a real chance at ending the toaster streak.
Assuming DeMarcus Cousins (who is currently a game-time decision) is active on the night, having two of the best big men in the league will put a lot of pressure on the Warriors front court defensively. Draymond Green is arguably the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year this season and Kevin Durant has played some of the best defense of his career since signing with the Warriors. Unfortunately, with Durant easing his way back in I'm not sure how effective he will be in that regard.
Since Cousins was traded to the Pelicans they have been a top ten team in points scored in the paint; they were tied for 17th prior to acquiring Cousins.
New Orleans has also been one of the best defensive teams in the league since the Cousins trade, boasting the 8th best defensive rating and finishing just outside the top 10 in points allowed in the paint. The Pelicans will have to rely on this defense if they want to have any chance of beating this Warriors team even when they're undermanned.
We can expect to see big games from Draymond Green and Klay Thompson if Curry ends up sitting out and Durant doesn’t play his usual minutes (although there is no official minutes restrictions on him). The question for the Warriors is will it be enough if both Cousins and Davis are active and in form?
This wouldn't be the first time a team below .500 has ended a Warriors streak. So everyone grasp their lucky toaster (or other magical kitchen appliance), the team might just need it.