If there were concerns about the Warriors playing without Steve Kerr on the sidelines, Steph Curry silenced them Monday night. Golden State beat the Trail Blazers, 128-103, in Portland to complete the four-game sweep. The Warriors led 45-22 after the first quarter, as Curry scored a game-high 37 points.
“I think that’s part of the reason they played like that tonight,” Mercury News columnist Marcus Thompson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think there’s a lot of question about how is this going to work out, and they really wanted to have an answer. They feel like peopler are thinking they might be vulnerable, so they really wanted to send a message. I think that’s what it was about. We could (have anyone) at coach; we’re loaded, and we’re about to try to win a championship.”
Kerr, 51, has missed the last two games while battling chronic back pain. Mike Brown has coached the Warriors in Kerr’s absence.
“(Kerr is) just in a really tough spot,” Thompson said. “He’s in a lot of pain. It takes about a year or two to recover (from his surgeries), and the scary part is that he’s about a year-and-a-half in and the symptoms are getting worse when he probably should be closer to coming out of this. So they have to figure out what is wrong with him. But the headaches, the nausea, the dizziness is at levels that you probably expected him to be past right now. If he takes himself out of the game, you know it’s bad. He coached 147 straight games with a migraine. So for him to say I can’t go during the playoffs, you know it’s pretty bad.”
The Warriors will play the winner of the Clippers/Jazz series, which is tied at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Thompson doesn’t see many challenges for the Warriors in the West.
“The easy answer is San Antonio because San Antonio just has pedigree,” said Thompson, when asked about the Warriors’ toughest pre-Finals test. “They execute at a level that they make life tough for everybody. But really, it might be a team like a Utah. It’s almost San Antonio by default. The problem with San Antonio is they have to play those bigs. They got (LaMarcus) Aldridge and (Pau) Gasol, and without them, they’re not as good. The problem with them is they can’t run. The Warriors are running up and down the court, and usually that recipe gets Gasol off the court or gets Aldridge off the court.
“But just by Gregg Popovich (being) the best coach in the game and they have a tradition of excellence in executing and working hard and they don’t make mistakes – you got to beat San Antonio,” Thompson continued. “So just because of that, I’m going to say San Antonio, but I don’t think the matchup is that great. It might even be Houston if Houston just gets hot for four games and makes 25 threes. That might be their biggest threat. I just don’t know if San Antonio can run with the Warriors.”
We’re also not sure if the Spurs can beat Memphis. That series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday in San Antonio at 9 p.m. ET.