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12/10 Weekly Preview: Draymond Green returns for the homestand

Golden State is improving in health, and, as a result, improving on the court.

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a five-game road trip, the Golden State Warriors are finally back home. And to celebrate, they’re bringing Draymond Green back.

Between Green coming back, Steph Curry finding his post-injury rhythm, and DeMarcus Cousins getting very close to a return, things are looking up for the Golden State Warriors. And this week provides them the perfect opportunity to extend a winning streak, and start to gain some separation in the packed Western Conference.

Let’s check it out.

Position entering the week

Record: 18-9
Conference standings: 1st
Net rating: 6th (+5.7)

This week’s games

Monday, December 10 vs the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13)

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Season series: Warriors lead 1-0

What to watch for: The Warriors get their first look at the new Wolves. When the teams first met, Minnesota still employed Jimmy Butler. Now the All-Star is in Philadelphia, and Robert Covington and Dario Saric are in Minneapolis. The Wolves have looked energized since the trade, and have been fun to watch.

Why they could win: Draymond Green is making his return, after missing 14 of the team’s last 16 games. It’s safe to say he’ll be energized and motivated to prove his worth.

Why they could lose: Since Covington and Saric joined the lineup, Minnesota is 8-4, with a net rating of +7.3, which ranks third in the league during that span. They are clicking, motivated, and very talented.

Opponent to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota’s young big has the chance to be a generational talent, but it was well reported that he didn’t like playing alongside Butler. No one has benefited from the trade as much as the 23-year old All-Star, who is playing with joy and dominance.

Wednesday, December 12 vs the Toronto Raptors (21-7)

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN and NBC Sports Bay Area

Season series: Raptors lead 1-0

What to watch for: You don’t need anything in particular to watch for when this game rolls around. It’s a matchup of the two number one seeds, and a potential NBA Finals preview. The teams played just two weeks ago, and it was arguably the best game of the regular season. Now they get to re-do it, but this time Steph Curry and Draymond Green will suit up. What’s not to love?

Why they could win: In the last matchup, Kevin Durant torched the Raps for 51, and Toronto needed overtime to win. Now the Warriors get to play at home, with two more All-Stars than the last time. That favors them, by quite a bit.

Why they could lose: Have you watched Toronto play this year? They are absurdly talented, obscenely deep, and outrageously well-coached.

Opponent to watch: Kawhi Leonard. The MVP candidate is rounding into form, as his efficiency is heating up, and his all-world defense is clamping down. Few players are as good as Leonard when he’s healthy and on his game, and he is officially both of those things.

Friday, December 14 at the Sacramento Kings (13-12)

When: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Season series: Warriors lead 1-0

What to watch for: Against all odds, we’re well into December and the Kings are still a thing. A thing with a winning record. They’re defying their differential a little bit, but still . . . they’re in the race for the playoffs, and giving good teams a hard out night in and night out. They’ll play the Dubs tough, just as they did the first time around.

Why they could win: Let’s be rude for a second: The Kings have massively exceeded expectations, but they’re still the Kings. And the Warriors are still the Warriors. The Warriors should beat a starting five of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica, and Willie Cauley-Stein. They just should. They might not - but they should.

Why they could lose: Here are some of the teams the Kings have taken out this year: The Oklahoma City Thunder (twice), the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs, the Utah Jazz, and the Indiana Pacers.

Opponent to watch: Marvin Bagley III. I’m still not sure how Bagley was picked ahead of Luka Doncic, but that’s neither here nor there. The second overall pick has shown some serious holes in his game, but he’s shown some dynamic traits as well. His face-up game can be deadly, and he has the ability to do a little bit of everything.

This week’s storylines

Can the winning streak fly high?

The Dubs have won three games in a row for just the second time all year. The first time around, early in the season, they won eight in a row. This is a very winnable week, and the Dubs could easily be sitting on a six-game winning streak when it’s over. And that sure would be nice.

How does Dray look?

Draymond Green has missed 11 straight games, and 14 of the last 16 since suffering a sprained toe. Will he be at full strength when he rejoins the team? Will he need a few g games to get up to speed and at his best?

Can Steph keep the MVP campaign going?

With his second Player of the Week award this year, Steph Curry got right back in the MVP conversation, despite missing 11 games with a groin injury. Can he add to his case with a big week, especially against the Raptors?

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