The Golden State Warriors kicked off 2020 with a whimper, winning just one, solitary game in the entire month of January. Though the injury ravaged Warriors sit at a league-worst 10-39, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not far behind, sitting in a three-way tie for second worst with a 13-36 record.
Maybe the rivalry has died down, with neither team fighting for anything more meaningful than just winning a rare game (both teams are 1-9 over their past ten contests), but maybe there’s still some fire to a matchup between two teams that faced each other in the Finals so often. But how much does the frustrated passion of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson matter against a roster consisting of only one player that played against them in all those Finals showdowns of yore?
WHO: Golden State Warriors (10-39) at Cleveland Cavaliers (13-36)
WHEN: Saturday February 1, 2020; 5:00 pm PST
WHERE: Loan Shark Arena, Cleveland OH
WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area
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Stephen Curry’s evaluation is today, can he and Russell work together?
In a season that has been defined more by who wasn’t on the court than who was, this development is as important a date as there is this season. Curry hasn’t played since the day before Halloween, when he broke his non-shooting hand in a weird entangled fall.
He’s looked good warming up recently, and doesn’t seem to show any signs of being slowed down by his left hand.
For Golden State, the immediate interest is in seeing him play alongside D’Angelo Russell. Can this sort of offensive-focused tandem not just coexist, but thrive? It’s the $117 million max contract sized question that is at the epicenter of all the questions surrounding the Warriors big offseason acquisition.
In limited time together, the early returns were not great. According to NBA.com’s lineup data, the duo of Curry and Russell appeared in four games together, sharing the court for a grand total of 74 minutes. The result: a net rating of -30.3 points (per 100 possessions); scoring at a rate of 96.6 points and coughing up 126.9 on defense.
Now, you have to take these numbers with a grain or three of salt, as not only are the 2-man lineup numbers wonky in general, but at just 74 minutes over the course of four games, there’s all sorts of caveats around forming judgments on small samples with two ball dominant players who haven’t had time to get used to each other.