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11/12 Weekly Preview: Can the Curry-less Warriors keep winning?

Golden State has a busy week ahead of them, with five games on the schedule.

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Last week wasn’t the greatest week for the Golden State Warriors. First, Draymond Green sprained his toe. Then, Steph Curry strained his groin. And finally, they got utterly destroyed by the Milwaukee Bucks.

All in all, Green missed two and a half games, and Curry one and a half. And while Green and Shaun Livingston will return to the lineup to start this week, Curry will miss at least the first two games.

That means everybody - especially the bench pieces - will have to step up if the Dubs want to have yet another winning week.

Position entering the week

Record: 11-2
Conference standings: 1st
Net rating: 2nd (+11.1)

This week’s games

Monday, November 12 at the Los Angeles Clippers (7-5)

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: NBA TV and NBC Sports Bay Area

What to watch for: This is the Warriors first glimpse at the completely new-look Clippers. With DeAndre Jordan opting to sign with the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, LA no longer has any of their stars from the Lob City era. Instead, they have a scrappy, well-coached team, that has proven to be able to compete with the top teams in the league on a nightly basis. They will bring it against the Warriors.

Why they could win: The Clippers, while good, don’t pose any threats that the Warriors don’t have an answer for. Across the board, Golden State has the advantage.

Why they could lose: The Clippers have a good coach, a lot of heart and energy, and good depth. They won’t be intimidated, and they won’t let their foot off the gas. If they make a few shots and stay in the game, things could get interesting.

Opponent to watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The lottery pick moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Avery Bradley, and immediately made it look like a mistake that 10 teams passed on him. His feel for the game is spectacular, and he has a smooth and slithery style that is a joy to watch.

Tuesday, November 13 vs the Atlanta Hawks (3-10)

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: NBA TV and NBC Sports Bay Area

What to watch for: A home game, against one of the worst teams in the league, is the prime opportunity for the Warriors to get a large lead early, rest their starters, and get some valuable time for the bench. How Golden State plays in April, May, and June may be affected by how well they can take care of games like this.

Why they could win: Simply put, Golden State, even without Steph Curry, is one of the best teams in the league, while Atlanta is one of the worst. If the Warriors are buckled in, there’s no way Atlanta can slow down Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, or score on Golden State’s stingy defense.

Why they could lose: While the Hawks aren’t good, they are pesky, and nearly pulled off a road victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. They will play hard, and have a few players capable of catching fire.

Opponent to watch: Trae Young. It’s a bummer Curry will be out for this matchup against a player who often draws Curry comparisons, but keep your eye on the fifth-overall pick. Young’s rookie season has been a roller-coaster, as expected, but some of his performances have been truly dynamic. While his jumper gets the attention, it’s his playmaking that is his greatest, and often most mesmerizing asset.

Thursday, November 15 at the Houston Rockets (5-7)

When: 5:00 p.m.

TV: TNT and NBC Sports Bay Area

What to watch for: Where are the Rockets from a chemistry standpoint? Houston started the season horribly, and has yet to figure out how to get going. Reports surfaced over the weekend that the team is preparing to part ways with Carmelo Anthony, due in part to preferring undrafted rookie Gary Clark. Will the news that Anthony is on the way out bring some stability, energy, and cohesion to the Rockets?

Why they could win: It’s a rematch of the Western Conference Finals, so you know the Warriors will be pumped up. Houston’s offense - historic just a year ago - has been horrible this year, ranking just 23rd in the league. Golden State won’t want to be the exception to Houston’s struggles.

Why they could lose: Houston is still a tremendously talented basketball team, with players who can be difference makers on both ends of the court. With Anthony all but gone, the Rockets may be energized, and a rematch with their playoff ouster will surely bring them a lot of motivation.

Opponent to watch: James Harden. The crafty lefty has not started the season like a reigning MVP. He’s still been good, but he hasn’t been the superstar we’ve grown accustomed to. Since last year, his points per game are down from 30.4 to 27.9, and his assists per game from 8.8 to 7.3. His turnovers per game have spiked, from 4.4 to 5.4, while his efficiency has dropped from 61.9% true-shooting to 58.9% true-shooting. Those numbers are still really, really good, but not what we’ve come to expect. If there’s a team he’d love to turn it around against, it’s the Warriors.

Saturday, November 17 at the Dallas Mavericks (4-8)

When: 5:30 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

What to watch for: Old friend Harrison Barnes, of course!

Why they could win: The Mavericks have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league. DeAndre Jordan isn’t the force he once was, and they’re starting liable players at the other four positions. Golden State has the best offense in the league, and should feast.

Why they could lose: Barnes does, after all, have all the secret Warriors intel that he can relay to the Dallas coaching staff.

Opponent to watch: Luka Doncic. Doncic is the obvious choice here, but for good reason. The rookie developed a crazy level of hype while tearing up the EuroLeague, leading many people (including yours truly) to believe he should be drafted first overall. Instead, the 19-year old went third, and quickly put any talk of slowly acclimating to the NBA to rest. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting 39.5% from three-point range. And in addition, he’s just really, really, really fun.

Sunday, November 18 at the San Antonio Spurs (7-4)

When: 4:00 p.m.

TV: NBA TV and NBC Sports Bay Area

What to watch for: This is Golden State’s first glance at the new-look Spurs, who made a dramatic offseason move by trading Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. It’s always fun when Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich meet up, and this game should be no exception.

Why they could win: The Spurs have compiled a nice winning record, but they have weaknesses. Their offense is very reliant on DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, and both of those players are very reliant on long twos. The Warriors can, and should exploit that.

Why they could lose: DeRozan, motivated by a trade he openly was very upset about, has come out of the gates blazing this season. And, as always, the Spurs are beautifully coached.

Opponent to watch: LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs have made a smart move by downsizing, and moving Aldridge to center in their starting lineup. But while the move is good, the All-Star has struggled to start the year, and both his scoring totals and efficiency have completely plummeted. He’ll try to get things back on track against Damian Jones, and it will be a big challenge for the Warriors young center.

This week’s storylines

Will Curry come back?

The Warriors have already ruled Steph Curry out of the first two games of the week. Will his groin injury heal up quickly enough that he can play in any of the other contests? It sure would be fun to have him in that Houston game . . .

Who plays?

On Saturday, the Warriors were without Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and DeMarcus Cousins. As such, two-way contracts Damion Lee and Marcus Derrickson, as well as rookie Jacob Evans III (recently assigned to the G League), were active and played. Green and Livingston are back, but the Dubs are still a little short-handed, and another minor injury would not be unlikely. Which young players will be given Steve Kerr’s trust?