Veteran coaches Steve Kerr and Dwane Casey hope to take the next step toward understanding different-looking rosters this season when the Golden State Warriors visit the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
The Warriors wrap up a season-opening, four-game trip looking to break even after Damion Lee’s 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining allowed them to overtake the Chicago Bulls for a 129-128 victory on Sunday.
As the Warriors rested in Detroit on Monday, the Pistons found themselves in Atlanta, where Casey elected to rest Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose in what became his team’s third straight defeat to start the campaign, a 128-120 setback against the Hawks.
Griffin and Rose are expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday as Casey attempts to write a script that maximizes their health and performances this season.
“We didn’t want to run them to the ground because of the back-to-back. That’s the reason,” Casey said when asked why arguably his two best players weren’t suiting up for just the third game of the young season. “I don’t want to say this is going to be the plan throughout the year. Their bodies and how they feel will lend a lot to how we want to do it.”
Griffin, 31, made it through just 18 games last season because of a sore left knee that eventually required surgery. The 11-year veteran has missed fewer than 21 games in a season just once since 2014-15.
Meanwhile, Rose, 32, has played no more than 51 games in each of the past three seasons and no more than 66 games in the past nine campaigns. Both he and Griffin missed full seasons early in their career due to knee surgeries.
Griffin averaged 20.5 points and Rose 14 in the Pistons’ season-opening losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers. In their absence at Atlanta, newcomers Jerami Grant and Josh Jackson led the way with 27 points apiece.
The Pistons haven’t been able to overcome a leaky defense that is allowing 122.3 points per game. But in the Warriors, they’ll see an opponent that has been ever weaker defensively, having given up a league-worst 130.3 points per game.
Coming off one-sided losses at Brooklyn and Milwaukee, Golden State was able to get into the win column Sunday thanks to season-best efforts in all three shooting percentages — field goal (40.4 percent), 3-point (38.3 percent) and free throw (90 percent).
Kerr is hoping the improvement is a sign of things to come, admitting he is still getting to know a roster that’s missing most of its key players from the run of five straight trips to the NBA Finals.
“I, frankly, haven’t done a great job of implementing things in an orderly fashion,” he said Monday. “And what I mean by that is I should have been probably simpler with what we were delivering right from Day 1.”
The Warriors scored 30 more points against the Bulls than they managed in either of their first two games. Stephen Curry was one big difference as he exploded for 36 points, making five 3-pointers after he had gone a combined 4-for-20 from beyond the arc earlier.
Draymond Green, who missed most of training camp after a positive coronavirus test before sustaining a foot strain on the eve of the opener, remains out of the Warriors’ lineup.
–Field Level Media