Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Jonathan Kuminga


Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Jonathan Kuminga


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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr shakes hands with Jonathan Kuminga #00.

All hands will be on deck when the Golden State Warriors (41-34) face the Houston Rockets (38-37) on the road on Thursday, April 4, in a pivotal match that could seal their spot in the play-in tournament.

“Jonathan Kuminga will be back on Thursday in Houston, according to Steve Kerr. [It’s] obviously a massive game in the standings,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on the “Run It Back” on FanDuel TV on Wednesday, April 3. “Houston has been coming right behind Golden State the last few weeks. [They had] 11 straight wins.

But they are now 3 games back at Golden State. That’s pretty insurmountable. You gotta win if you’re Houston to give yourself even a chance but [Andrew] Wiggins has stepped up in these four games that Kuminga has been out with knee tendinitis. Getting Kuminga back in the lineup, getting him a rhythm before the playoffs, that’s going to be big for them.”

Wiggins continued to step up in Kuminga’s absence, firing 23 points to lead the Warriors to a 104-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, April 2, for their fifth straight win.

The Rockets were hot on the Warriors’ tails last week after rattling off 11 straight wins as they closed the gap to just half-game. But the Warriors responded with their current winning streak, which is part of a 5-1 road trip, that widened their gap once again heading into Thursday’s crucial match.


Jonathan Kuminga’s Recovery

Kuminga last saw action at the start of their five-game winning streak in Miami on March 26 when he scored 18 points in 32 minutes and finished as plus-21 in a 113-92 Golden State blowout win.

Then he missed the next four games with a knee injury.

Kuminga warmed up before the Warriors’ 117-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs on March 31 but he was a late scratch. He was again a game-time decision against the Mavericks but Kerr held him back once again.

“He hadn’t done anything because of the knee for the last week,” Kerr told reporters before Tuesday’s win, per Mercury News. “He’s feeling a lot better. Just got a really good 3-on-3 scrimmage in, the first work he’s done since he’s been out. So, we felt strongly that he needed to get a couple of days’ work in before he’s ready to play.”


Rejuvenated Andrew Wiggins

Kuminga’s absence provided Wiggins more opportunities to regain his confidence since his return from a four-game absence bridging February and March due to personal reasons.

Except for a 2 of 12 shooting dud against the Spurs, Wiggins was solid during Kuminga’s absence. He scored at least 20 points in three of the Warriors’ last four games Kuminga missed.

Kerr was effusive in his praise of Wiggins following Tuesday night’s huge win over the Mavericks.

“It was our defense that got us the win,” Kerr told reporters. “Holding those guys to 100 points is pretty difficult. I thought (Wiggins) was brilliant. He put in so much effort just trying to make Luka work. Luka was amazing as he always is, but that effort really set a tone.”

Wiggins made Luka Doncic work hard for his 20th triple-double (30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists).

 

 

Alder Almo is a basketball journalist covering the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors for Heavy. He has more than 15 years of experience in local and international media, including broadcast, print and digital. He previously covered the Knicks for Empire Sports Media and the NBA for Off the Glass. Alder is from the Philippines and is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey. More about Alder Almo



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