Warriors Notes: Thurs. Win, Kuminga, Jackson-Davis, Green

The Warriors all but ended the Rockets‘ season on Thursday with a 133-110 victory in Houston that widened the gap between the two teams to four games with just six left to play. As Kendra Andrews of ESPN notes, because Golden State holds the tiebreaker over the Rockets, the Warriors’ lead for the No. 10 spot in the West is essentially five games.

Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the Warriors relished the opportunity to deal a virtual death blow to Houston’s play-in chances, particularly after injured Rockets forward Tari Eason showed up to the game wearing a shirt that read, “Warriors, come out to play.” According to Andrews, both Thompson and Green faced the Houston crowd and yelled that phrase later in the night.

“That’s pretty lame, especially if you’re not even playing,” Thompson said of Eason’s shirt. “It’s one thing if you are out there playing, out there competing and you can back it up. But you’re just going to be trolling from the sideline? What are you doing? The time we talk smack, we’re out there competing. That’s all I have to say about that.”

Eason was limited to just 22 appearances in 2023/24 due to health issues and underwent season-ending leg surgery in March. Green said he’s looking forward to getting the opportunity to play the Rockets next season when Eason is healthy and that he hopes the two teams are fighting for a higher seed at that point.

“I love it [but] if you’re going to say that, you got to play,” Green said. “You can’t come out and say that and not play. But I know what type of player he is. He welcomes all of that. He welcomes the challenge and welcomes the fight. … Hopefully next year he’ll say the same thing and we both won’t be fighting for the play-in, we’ll be fighting for the seeding.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Jonathan Kuminga started 29 consecutive games for the Warriors before missing the past five contests due to a knee issue, but he’ll likely return to the bench once he’s healthy, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Golden State has won all five of those games without Kuminga, and the new-look starting five of Stephen Curry, Thompson, Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Trayce Jackson-Davis has a +26.4 net rating during that stretch. “We’ve established something here,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Thursday. “If we’re playing well, we generally keep the same starting lineup.” The Warriors are “hopeful” Kuminga will be back on Friday.
  • Prior to the last five games, Green and Jackson-Davis had only played 92 minutes together this season, but Kerr has leaned heavily recently on that frontcourt duo, which now has a +16.6 net rating (and a 96.2 defensive rating) in 169 total minutes. “Trayce and Draymond together have changed our team,” Kerr said on Thursday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “It’s pretty dramatic, the rim protection and rebounding that Trayce gives us and what that allows Draymond to do.”
  • Green is also a fan of the combination, suggesting on Thursday that playing next to Jackson-Davis gives him more freedom on defense: “It allows me to take more chances. Not necessarily chances gambling for a steal, but to clog the paint up, make extra rotations. If I’m the five, I’m the last line of defense. The things that I do off of instinct, reading the game on the fly, it’s hard to do that at the five because you’re anchoring everybody. So if I just run over here to cover up something but I’m the five, that’s leaving the rim unprotected. But if I know the rim is protected with Trayce, I’ll just go do it.”
  • Green’s tremendous defensive play since last week’s ejection in Orlando is a prime example of why the Warriors are willing to endure the veteran forward’s lows, knowing that there are likely highs around the corner, says Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Kawakami suggests that the Warriors have always taken a practical, big-picture approach with Green, who remains a key part of the team’s on-court success.
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