By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange – UPI
Riding a five-game winning streak, the Warriors will be facing a Nets team that has lost three in a row and 11 of 12.
Brooklyn opened its five-game trip with losses to Cleveland, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors (49-14) are racing the Houston Rockets (49-13) for the honor of being the first in the NBA to 50 wins this season. The Rockets will get the first crack at it — they take the court at Oklahoma City on Tuesday night 2 1/2 hours before the Warriors and Nets tip off.
Golden State has won five straight against Brooklyn, but recent meetings have been more competitive than the streak indicates.
The Nets gave the Warriors a run before falling short 118-111 at home in November. Meanwhile, six of their last seven games at Golden State have been decided by nine or fewer points, with one loss going to overtime and the Nets winning the 2012 meeting.
In fact, the Nets have made a habit of losing close games on their current trip. Their total margin of defeat in the three games was 14 points.
“The hardest thing in professional sports is to close out a game,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson lamented after Sunday’s 123-120 loss to the Clippers. “That’s where we’re at right now with our ability to close it out. We’re not there yet. We’ve been in a lot of games like this. We have to do a better job.”
A visit to Oakland means a homecoming for Allen Crabbe, a standout at nearby Cal. He had 18 points in his most recent visit last season before pouring in 25 points, including six 3-pointers, in the November meeting in Brooklyn.
Crabbe had only six points Sunday against the Clippers, but he was on a nice roll before that, averaging 20.8 points in his previous eight games. He made 34 3-pointers during that stretch.
The Warriors know all about making 3-pointers.
Stephen Curry connected on his 200th of the season Friday in Atlanta, giving him 200 or more in six straight seasons. No other NBA player has reached the mark six times in his career, let alone six in a row.
That distinction probably will be short-lived. Backcourt mate Klay Thompsonneeds four 3-pointers for his sixth career season with 200 or more.
The Warriors began the week fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers made with 746, with the Nets (787) one of the four teams ahead of them.
Nobody leads Golden State in 3-point field goal percentage (39.7).
Curry couldn’t finish the game against Atlanta after twisting his troublesome right ankle. He insisted afterward that he was fine and wouldn’t miss any playing time.
In announcing that Curry would be a game-time decision, Warriors coach Steve Kerr made it clear Sunday that health, not the race for home-court advantage in the playoffs, would dictate his lineups moving forward.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” Kerr said of the No. 1 playoff seed. “If somebody needs some rest or is banged up, I’ll sit them.”