Draymond Green in playoff mode as Warriors host Thunder

NBA

That Draymond Green is playing a big role in the Golden State Warriors’ late-season resurgence is unsurprising.

That Juan Toscano-Anderson is playing a major part, too, is a bit of a revelation.

But heading into Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in San Francisco, the veteran Green and Toscano-Anderson, the second-year two-way player, are major reasons why the Warriors have climbed into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference with five games to play — all at home.

Golden State has gone 10-5 in its last 15 games to climb back above .500.

In his last 14 games, Green has averaged 7.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. In his first 45 games this season, Green was averaging 6.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.5 steals.

“I think Draymond has just been phenomenal,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s put together a great, great season and particularly these last few weeks his defense has been off the charts, energy is great, leadership is great.”

Toscano-Anderson has proved to be a key piece of Golden State’s bench, helping lessen the drop-off when Kerr goes to his reserves.

“He’s one of those guys that just makes the game easier for everybody,” Kerr said. “He’s a big reason why we’ve played pretty well the last month, because Juan has given us great minutes night-in, night-out.”

The Warriors and Toscano-Anderson are finalizing a standard contract, and also plan to sign center Jordan Bell to a two-way deal, The Athletic reported Friday. Bell, 26, played his first two seasons with the Warriors, appearing in 32 playoff games in 2018 and 2019 — winning an NBA title in 2018.

While the Warriors (34-33) come into Saturday’s game having won three of four to help improve their positioning for their likely appearance in the play-in tournament, the Thunder continue to struggle.

Oklahoma City (21-46) has dropped five consecutive games and 19 of its last 20.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault continues to experiment with matchups and rotations and despite losses piling up in big numbers, continues to preach about the importance of progress as the season winds down.

Part of that progress is putting players in different situations, such as matching up Luquentz Dort with Warriors’ star Stephen Curry during Thursday night’s 118-97 Golden State win in the first of the consecutive meetings between the teams.

It was Dort’s first career game against the Warriors and Curry.

Dort struggled on Curry, getting into foul trouble early as Curry heated up, finishing with 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

“You develop a feel for really good players,” Daigneault said. “That’s one of the things I learned from (former Thunder player Andre) Roberson, is he had just a great feel for individual matchups because of the experience level he had.

“And Lu’s kinda gaining that with all these players, but (Thursday) was his first crack at Curry. That’s obviously a really different preparation from any other player in the league.”

Curry has averaged 38 points per game in two meetings with the Thunder this season, with all of his scoring coming in the first three quarters of those games — both Golden State wins.

–Field Level Media

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