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COHN: Warriors have issues

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.

CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 10:52 p.m.

OAKLAND -- Here are six things you should know about the Warriors:

1: Coach Mark Jackson has no idea if Stephen Curry, who sprained an ankle yet again, can play in Game 4 today. “Once again, we’re back to trusting the process, treatment around the clock, seeing how he is (Sunday). Unfortunately, we’ve become veterans at this.”

Curry’s status will be a game-time decision, made more difficult by the actual game time — 12:30 p.m. That’s seven hours sooner than regular game time, and it means Curry has fewer hours for treatment.

I asked Jackson if Curry’s recurring injuries to both ankles — he’s needed painkilling injections in the playoffs — will be a career-long problem.

Jackson: “Not a concern at all.”

Cohn: “You think he won’t continue to sprain his ankles?”

Jackson: “Not a concern. I guarantee you somebody’s going to sprain his ankle maybe the rest of the way in the playoffs. Or without a doubt, it will happen next year. It happens in the game of basketball. I don’t think it’s an issue of Steph Curry.”

May we disagree? Curry has ankle problems above and beyond the average NBA player. And the whole thing is just so sad. Here is a potentially great player with a flaw.

2. If Curry cannot start, Jarrett Jack will play point guard. “With Steph Curry or without, we went and got Jarrett Jack for this reason,” Jackson said. “So, that’s not a concern. Probably in the past, I’d be biting my nails. But we’ve got a proven guy.”

Jackson enumerated Jack’s good qualities: “Confidence, edge, competitive, winner, honest guy that knows when he plays great and knows when he plays bad. He owns it. His winning spirit is contagious. We would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for Jarrett Jack. So, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.”

You can’t exactly say the Warriors are dead with Jack at the point and Curry out of the game. Jack is a fabulous sixth man. He is fiery and intelligent and he makes things happen.

But losing Curry along with David Lee would be overwhelming to the Warriors’ chances. And while it’s true Jack makes things happen, some of what happens isn’t so good.

He sometimes mishandles the ball — a problem in a point guard. He can’t guard Tony Parker. On Friday night, his plus-minus was atrocious.

What in the world is this man going on about?

Basketball nerds keep a stat called plus-minus. It shows how your team did with you on the floor. It shows something about you, maybe more about a particular lineup. The Warriors were minus-19 when Jack played on Friday, got outscored by 19 points.

Do you want this man to be your point guard against San Antonio? Can the Warriors make up for the absence of Curry with Jack?

No. No.

Jack, a clever charming man, said this about taking over for Curry. “No, I’ve done it many many times. It won’t be anything I gotta go in there and read a Phil Jackson Zen book.”

Great line. Unfortunately, in his next breath, Jack said, “We head into Game 3.” He caught himself. “Four. Four,” he said.

Not that anybody’s counting.

3. The Spurs are taking advantage of Andrew Bogut.

At specific times, they intentionally foul Bogut because he is bad at shooting free throws, has been bad since he dislocated his right elbow three seasons ago. The Spurs make a calculation.

If Bogut goes to the line, he will miss one or both shots and that’s worth taking the foul. In three games against the Spurs, he is five of 14 in foul shots. Talk about plus-minus — Bogut takes but also gives away.

“It’s frustrating,” he said of the intentional fouls, “but it’s part of the game. I’m shooting the ball horrendously ever since my elbow injury. I wasn’t a great free-throw shooter before that. Following my injury, it’s not great. I’ve got to figure things out in the summer. They’re trying to get me out of the game. It’s a play I would do if I was (Gregg) Popovich.

Is his elbow different after the injury?

“The range of motion is not the same. When you’ve had an injury to that extent, your touch feels different. It’s frustrating to be at the free-throw line and every shot feels completely different. I’ve got to concentrate on trying to make them and, if I make them, they’ll stop doing it. Sometimes, my arm is not doing what I want it to do.”

Before Game 3 Jackson said he would not take Bogut out of the game if the Spurs kept sending him to the foul line. But Jackson took him out of the game, anyway.

4. David Lee is a nonfactor in this series. Fans get excited when he enters the game — it’s like a scene from a feel-good movie. But in real life, he will not win the series for the Warriors. He is a sideshow and on Friday he played three minutes.

“I’m not going to put a demand on his body that he’s not able to respond to,” Jackson said. “When I had taken him out in the first half, I didn’t think about putting him back in.”

5. According to Jackson, this series is “a heavyweight bout.” When I asked which heavyweights, he said Ali-Frazier. When I asked who the Warriors are, he said Ali.

Everyone wants to be Ali.

6. If the Warriors lose today and head to San Antonio down 3-1, the world will become a very hard place for them.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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