Warriors can't look past slumping Pistons

The biggest challenge for the Golden State Warriors on Friday is to block Christmas out of the collective minds.

A showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers looms on Sunday but they first have to make a pit stop in Detroit. They face the slumping Pistons at The Palace on the second end of a back-to-back. The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by defeating Brooklyn, 117-101, on Thursday night.

Warriors guard Klay Thompson admitted earlier this week that he was looking forward to the Christmas Day matchup against the team that broke their hearts in the Finals.

"It's exciting," he told the San Jose Mercury News. "We can't overlook Brooklyn and Detroit, but when you face a team like Cleveland, playing the brand of basketball they are and being first in the East, it makes for a lot of hype. Those are the most fun games to play in the regular season, because it can get long, and you need games like that."

The Warriors played in Brooklyn without forward Draymond Green, who returned to the Bay Area for the birth of his son. It's uncertain whether Green, a Michigan native and former Michigan State standout, will rejoin the team in time for Friday's game.

"We'll see. I suppose there's a chance he could be in Detroit tomorrow," coach Steve Kerr said. "That's his one home game of the year. I know he doesn't want to miss that one. But we'll see if he makes it back in time. He has to take care of business at home first."

The Pistons (14-17) have lost four straight and now face the unenviable task of playing the Warriors and Cleveland (on Monday night) the next two games.

"This is a tough stretch. This is not a league for the faint of heart," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's not a league that's going to feel sorry for you and give you any breaks,"

Detroit's defense collapsed during the first three games of the skid, allowing an average of 113.3 points per game.

Offensive futility was the biggest issue in the Pistons' 98-86 home loss to Memphis on Wednesday. They shot 36.1 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from long range.

"Our guys are just getting so frustrated offensively," Van Gundy said. "We definitely competed hard. There is no question about that. We just couldn't score."

Van Gundy planned to make a lineup switch on Wednesday but a car accident postponed that move. Power forward Jon Leuer missed the morning shootaround after being involved in a 45-mile-per-hour collision in which his airbags deployed. Leuer suffered minor injuries but was able to play effectively that night, contributing 18 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes.

He will likely replace either Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris in the lineup on Friday. Harris scored just seven points against the Grizzlies, the eighth consecutive game he has produced 15 points or less. Morris has shot 22.9 percent from the field over the last four games, including a 1-for-11 outing against the Grizzlies.

Detroit caught Golden State at the right time last January, handing the Warriors one of their nine regular-season losses at The Palace, 113-95. The Pistons' backcourt of Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for 40 points and the Warriors couldn't make Detroit's energy, despite a 38-point output from Stephen Curry.
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