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Sam Gordon | Golden State Warriors Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

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January 31, 2024 6:11 am

Sam Gordon | Golden State Warriors Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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January 31, 2024 6:11 am

Golden State Warriors beat writer Sam Gordon from the San Francisco Chronicle joins the show.

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A Peanut Butter M&M's Production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners-up get nothing, one retired cop returns. That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. That's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter, but you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort, coming soon to a Super Bowl new you. We are pleased to welcome Sam Gordon, finished covering the Warriors at Chase Center in his victory over the Sixers. Sam, what is it like to have Draymond back with the team after his long absence? Well, first and foremost, appreciate you having me tonight.

Of course. It's been everything for the Warriors, right? I mean, he's been such a conduit offensively for them. Outside of Steph Curry, he gives them another organizer on the offensive end of the floor.

His ball handling and his ability to make plays, both in transition and in the half court. Free Steph Curry up to run off screen so he doesn't have to be so responsible for the offensive end for carrying or creating every shot on the offensive end of the floor. Then defensively, he's doing what he's done for the last decade.

That's being anchored, that's communicate, that's dictate coverages, dictate switches. That's be physical and guard up and guard bigger players as we saw him do very effectively tonight against Joel Embiid, who was hampered by a sore knee. But still, the Warriors held Joel Embiid at the 5 of 18 shooting, coaxed him into 8 turnovers and largely responsible for that in so many ways. Not just with his actual play with how he physically matched up with Joel Embiid, but again, going back to the communication piece of things, just the organizer was Draymond Green. He's at the epicenters in his return in the last 5 games now of pretty much all their most effective lineups. On Saturday when they played the Los Angeles Lakers, they were a plus 31, the Warriors, in the 45 minutes he played and a minus 32 in the minutes he sat.

Just to kind of provide some perspective. They really have nobody like him. Even at this stage in his career with what he's able to do with his IQ, his acumen on both ends of the floor, it's been super impactful. If the Warriors are going to get this thing turned around, he's going to certainly have a lot to do with it just like he has already in the 5 games that he's been back in the rotation. I heard an interview with Andrew Wiggins on Warriors radio postgame in which he called Draymond the Mastermind.

What does that mean? It means that there is an intangible quality that he has where he can think on the fly and just make things happen. Defensively, his understanding of strengths and weaknesses of opposing players, of schemes, of positioning on that side of the ball, it makes such an impact. Especially when you're onboarding into the starting lineup and in the big minutes a younger player like Jonathan Caminga. Caminga has been very vocal about having Draymond Green back in his year and encouraging him and putting him in the right position is how that's helped him.

We see what the byproduct is. 7 straight, 20 point games for Jonathan Caminga. Offensively, the way he reads the game, the way he reads the floor, you just see things, especially him and Steph Curry, the synergy they have where it's not a set, it's not a call, he just understands where to screen for Steph Curry when he's off the ball, when to get him the ball, when and how and where he's going to cut, and how that opens up the rest of the floor. We see how defenses gravitate towards Curry's shooting. That's going to open up one-on-one opportunities and create closeouts for Jonathan Caminga and Andrew Wiggins to attack and Draymond Green finds them too. Again, it's impossible to underscore enough just how impactful he's been on both ends of the floor. For the Warriors, the question now at this point with a five game road trip on the horizon and still a lot of work to do in the Western Conference standings, just to get in the mix back for the play-in is if it's going to be too little too late. The Warriors so clearly missed his presence when he was out due to suspension and he's been everything they've wanted him to be, I think, and then some the last several games, the last few in particular. Now that Steve Kerr has started to settle on some lineups that he's comfortable deploying with Draymond at the center.

Alright, we'll get back to the lineups, but just Dray, how does he seem to you? Different? You know, in some ways, yeah. I mean, we haven't seen quite the same degree of emotion on the basketball court the last few games as we typically see, but that's at this stage, right?

Probably a good thing. I mean, you're not going to ever take away all the fire that Draymond Green has. He's still competing with a lot of enthusiasm, obviously the play, the statistics, the advanced stuff, all of that kind of speaks for itself. But you're not seeing some of the same things that we saw earlier in the season. He's not, you know, not being quite as physical, certainly not flailing around and hitting guys like that.

And, you know, there's been a lot more mild banter with the referees as well. And, you know, understanding just how valuable he is on the basketball court, right? The Warriors need Draymond Green playing basketball.

They don't need him in street clothes. They need him playing basketball. And it seems so far, right? And we'll see again how the season continues. But at this juncture, in his return, you're getting all the best of Draymond Green without the worst of him. And that's exactly what the Warriors need at this point in the season. Sam Gordon is the Golden State Warriors beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, joining us following the win for them at Chase Center over the Sixers.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. All right, let's talk about lineups. There's been a lot of shuffling for a variety of reasons by Steve Kerr.

How much does that have to do with the inconsistency with which they've played this year? Yeah, I mean, I think it's certainly part of it, right, when you, again, just, you know, as we discuss how important Draymond Green is. Well, to not have him for a huge chunk of the season, be it, you know, self-inflicted reasons or not, it's still going to have an effect on your basketball team. I think a number of the Warriors' best lineups this year featured, believe it or not, Chris Paul, right?

Even at this stage of his career, still a really effective organizer, somebody who can set tempo. So, there's a brief stretch where the Warriors had neither Chris Paul or Draymond Green. Well, where is the playmaking, where is the shot creation going to come from if not Steph Curry? So, being without, you know, having guys in and out of the lineup, not being able to have your kind of your core group healthy and or available for long stretches.

I mean, it's definitely played, it's certainly definitely played a role in some of the issues that the Warriors have been dealing with. Now, that being said, with Draymond Green back, even without Chris Paul, even with Moses Moody still working through some things as he, you know, was cleared today for a return to practice. Even without Gary Payton, you know, the second in his on-ball defense, the things he's able to do as a cutter, the synergy, the chemistry that he has with the veteran group there. Having Draymond Green back and having him along with the Steph Curry, along with Andrew Wiggins, along with Jonathan Caminga, who's obviously come into his own, now you're at the juncture where you can maybe establish a little bit of continuity, right? More than halfway through the season, again, not necessarily sure that there's enough time, but continuity in this league, so important. And the Warriors just so obviously didn't have that during the first juncture of the season.

So we'll see what happens as they get healthier, right? Their second unit now could use a little bit more fortifying now that Jonathan Caminga has joined the starting lineup, but that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. So certainly Moses Moody, when he comes back, his shot making, his size, even though he was out of the rotation, would certainly expect him to be a part of it again until Chris Paul gets back. And then having Chris Paul potentially rejoin the team once he gets cleared in a couple weeks, there's an update with him too, now cleared to do some individual work, some very light individual stuff with a split on that left hand that he broke. So it's been a hodgepodge of players, right? That's what happens when you've got guys going in and out of the lineup, but finally now some continuity being established.

And it would seem that Steve Kerr definitely likes what he sees, judging on what he said at press conferences about the lineups that he's finally settled on, featuring the three that have anchored this franchise the last decade along with Caminga and Wiggins. I know their last two losses were by a single point each, including that game against the Lakers on Saturday night that went into double overtime, but they've had some really jaw-dropping defeats this season. Some which you would say, that's the worst loss in franchise history, that's got to be one of the worst losses we've ever seen, it's the worst loss of the Steve Kerr era, it's this, it's that. And yet it's happened more than once, especially in cases where they've had leads and have completely blown them.

Any explanation for those games? That's what the Warriors have been trying to configure a solution for all season. I think you could probably point to some of the continuity issues and not having quite the same degree of experience. I think also, let's just kind of face it, at this stage of the dynasty, or the fading dynasty, whatever you want to call it, you're dealing with an aging team, right? And latent games down the stretch, veteran players that have a lot of wear and tear, could that be a factor potentially, right? But at the end of the day, the Warriors feel like they're right there. You talk about their record in clutch games, I think it's like 15 and 16 or 15 and 17 at this point.

Like three-fourths of their games have been decided by five points or fewer. So for a team that's closed so many games and has been so good down the stretch the last several years, this is definitely unchartered territory for the Warriors in a lot of ways. But getting separation tonight down the stretch, I think has players and coaches feeling good about where this team is going against a team in the Philadelphia 76ers that did have Joel Embiid for a majority of the game tonight. And of course, getting healthier, getting Chris Paul back in the lineup if and when he does return, having Draymond Green, having Steph Curry, having your experience now, having some continuity should help down the stretch. But it's definitely been a strange deal around these parts, seeing the Warriors so good in late game situations for so many years kind of flounder down the stretch. We'll see if that's something that they can get turned around. I know the optimism hasn't waned. It's still there and you win some of these 50-50 games that they've been losing, you come out on the other end of them, then maybe they make a push down the stretch for certainly the play-in and potentially the postseason.

Sam Gordon from the San Francisco Chronicle with us here after hours on CBS Sports Radio. Outside of actual basketball and the challenges of a long season and injuries in the lineups and everything else we've talked about, they had to deal with the devastating loss of their assistant coach and his death happened right in front of them. How are they dealing with that, a couple of weeks removed? Yeah, I think it's one of those things where they're going to be dealing with it in kind of their own way throughout the rest of the season. Grief is non-linear.

I guess there's not a right or wrong way to deal with it. Everybody kind of figures out and deals with it in real time and that's what the Warriors have kind of had to process. Obviously, and last week in so many ways was just devastating emotionally, right? Obviously losing Decky and then having to kind of get back to basketball with him not there, right? Just kind of the basic things, him at practice, him interacting with players, his laugh, his smile, his energy. Players and coaches alike have raved about his way of being able to be direct and being critical while also being lighthearted and humorous in the process. So there's no doubt, even though the season is back on and that pause that his death kind of necessitated is over, that the Warriors players and coaches and the organization as a whole is moving forward with a heavy heart.

But that goes to show what kind of impact he made and that's ultimately obviously cut short but a very, very positive thing. And you know that the Warriors have bonded together and are rallying together around this and you've really seen the kind of the family nature of the organization in the last few weeks and would expect that to continue moving forward for, again, what's going to be a very nonlinear grieving period. You know, there's a road trip coming up or a swing of games where the Warriors are going to be on the road quite a bit. A couple of those games are going to be in Utah before the All-Star Breaks. It'll be interesting to see how, you know, a return back to Utah where he passed, what kind of effect that has on the players and whatnot. But they've done, I think, as good of a job as you possibly can with an unprecedented situation, you know, compartmentalizing that but still honoring him while moving forward and continuing with the season. It was certainly cool to see some of the 49ers, who of course will be in Vegas for the Super Bowl coming up in a couple of weeks, but they were there and I know the players noticed. What kind of reaction did they get from the crowd at Chase Center? Oh, that was a huge pop, Amy, when they announced, you know, some of the Niners players, right?

George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Iuge, Trent Williams, so on and so forth. For as much as this is a Warrior town, and I've learned in short order in my short time being on the beat, this is a Niner town just as much. And so this city is, you know, they've had their fill and their fix of NBA championships, but they're fixing for another Super Bowl that would be their first one since 1995. So, you know, the players were really excited to have the Niners there, courtside as well. Steph Curry, Draymond Green both spent, you know, some time topping it up with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Iuge and whatnot after the game, signing some autographs. And you saw fans kind of huddle around in the stands, you know, kind of those meetings and those gatherings. So, you know, a lot to look forward to here in the Bay, right?

Obviously the, you know, February 11th in Las Vegas. And then again, this crucial, you know, five-game homestand with the road trip with the trade deadline also, you know, coinciding with the very end of that in which there could be, you know, potentially be a shakeup with the roster. So we'll see. But one thing is for sure that the enthusiasm for the Niners runs deep here in the Bay, and that's going to be a fascinating matchup and a rematch of the Super Bowl from a few years ago against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Absolutely. Cannot wait for that. So a lot of buzz around the Bay area. The Warriors know it well, but can they grab some of that for themselves?

We will see in the second half of the season. You want to find Sam on Twitter at BySamGordon, B-Y-SamGordon, covering the Warriors for the San Francisco Chronicle. Glad to have you with us for the first time.

Hope it's not the last. Thanks, Sam. Me too, Amy. My pleasure. Appreciate you having me. And hopefully we talk soon.

Take care. A Peanut Butter M&M's production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners-up get nothing, one retired cop returns. That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. Um, that's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter, but you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort, coming soon to a Super Bowl new you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-11 07:36:16 / 2024-02-11 07:43:55 / 8

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