DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Warriors' Post Depth

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


The Warriors crushed Game 3. Exhale, everyone!

Kevin Durant set the tone from tip-off and dropped a monster performance with 38 points and seven assists. After declaring at practice, "I'm Kevin Durant" and Steve Kerr backing that up with, "Kevin is the most skilled basketball player on Earth," KD let his play do the talking during the game.

The Clippers have yet to hold the Dubs to less than 50 percent shooting from the field in the series. And when the Warriors limit their turnovers, it's a whole new ballgame.

Game On!

@Danno869 "Team" is important to the Warriors, how much did the injury to Boogie affected the emotions of the team?

Via IG, @jeffvega: Do you think losing Boogie for possibly the rest of the playoffs will make the entire team re-focus?

The Warriors are sad for DeMarcus Cousins because they know the work he did to rehab. He missed nearly a year of playing time. He was open about the dark days he went through. When there was so much build-up to his return, and seeing his skill level and the kind of teammate he is, watching DeMarcus go down with another injury is a punch to the heart.

Now, they play for him. Add it to the gas tank fueling the desire to three-peat.

The Warriors are forced to re-focus because the season-long mission to fold DeMarcus into the offense now is a sudden change to adjust without him. This situation takes attention and recalibration at a time when the competition is at the highest level.

Before the team flew to LA, Draymond Green said they're giving DeMarcus his space for a little while. Sometimes there's nothing to say in those first days until you have time to process the emotions.

@wiltthestilt20 Is Cousins going to re-sign with the warriors for next season?

That's uncertain, but the door is open a little wider. As Monte Poole explained, the Warriors couldn't afford DeMarcus next season because he was expected to command a deal in the $20 million range. Now with two injuries to the same leg, DeMarcus' value could drop into affordable territory.

The Warriors like having DeMarcus around. A sad situation could turn into something mutually beneficial.

@dfs30745 What is the status of Damian Jones? Is he up to playing speed?

@Nickaiah #AskKerith Please what are the options to fill up Cousins' spot on the roster (if necessary) and how far away is Damian Jones?

Via IG, moks_ma: When will Damian Jones play?

It's unlikely Jones will play in the postseason. Steve Kerr said he's happy with how Jones is progressing after his pectoral muscle tear, but Jones has not been cleared for contact.

Also, if Jones were to become available, it would be rough to throw him into playoffs. Remember all the runway DeMarcus got to get his conditioning up? Jones hasn't played in a game since December, and throwing him into the toughest games in a season, with the highest pressure to perform, isn't ideal.

As far as adding someone to the roster, that someone was Andrew Bogut. Teams can go into the postseason with 15 players. Then that playoff roster locks.

Via IG, @anthony_baldini: What is Kevon Looney's ceiling? Are these playoffs his payday?

Kevon Looney has been solid, notably in Game 2, when he had 19 points, a new career high, on 6-of-6 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the stripe. He's also setting some vicious screens and fouling less.

Loon is an unrestricted free agent next season, and the Warriors will try to bring him back. He tested the open market last season and found it tepid. Next season could be an occasion for both parties to commit to each other longer.

To me, Looney's growth is what happens when you give a guy room to develop and play regularly. Youngsters take time to reach their potential, plus he had injuries to overcome. Kerr likes Loon's easygoing nature and professionalism. That's the kind of guy you want in the locker room, and his play is making an impact.

@kelcatinc Your thoughts on Jordan Bell and potential for minutes with Boogie sidelined. Looks to be on a short leash but understandable. He looks slow and not engaged, is it due to lack of minutes or is it just him?

I don't think Jordan is slow or not engaged. I think he's low on the pecking order on Warriors' centers, and playing time has been hard to come by. That compounds an issue: How do you play well when you're not getting game time to work out the kinks? How do you build a rhythm?

Some of the lack of playing time is on him. He needs to be reliable. Some of this is his small role on a really good team.

Jordan played well last season against Houston, so matchups will have a say on his minutes, in addition to the Warriors relying on their depth with DeMarcus out. Jordan's job is to be ready.

Via IG, @jewwels85: With so much experience how do the players deal with the mental effect of the playoff highs and lows. What do they do to stay grounded?

A handful of them bring their golf clubs on trips. They get away from basketball and find their happy place.

If you're on a team defending a championship and the playoffs require your absolute best, your emotional bandwidth prioritizes work. You must perform with no distractions. Work takes up the bulk of your time. In the small pockets when you're not working, you clear your mind with the things that enrich you. That definitely includes time away from coworkers. The Warriors didn't practice the day after the Game 2 loss. They exhaled, away from each other. It's a mental reset.

The players simplify things this time of year. The routine shrinks to basic things like eat, sleep, work, family, repeat. They do fewer events and charity work during the playoffs. Time is precious, and they devote most of it to the championships hunt.

@stagedarren #askKerith Does the coaching staff have individual game plans? Do they make specific strategies for the specific opponent? Or do they just plan to do the same thing, no matter who they play?

The strategy is specific for the opponent, because each opponent is different. The four assistant coaches rotate "scouts" during the regular season. A scout is where they study a team's players and tendencies to make a plan for disrupting how that team operates.

As the Warriors headed into playoffs and three teams could have been the eight seed, the coaches (and video staff!) started doing their scouts to be as prepared as possible for whichever opponent they got. In the playoffs, everyone combines observations for the scout.

@Brasi_Leo #askKerith How do you cope when the Warriors lose a game? Does it get to you?

Losses don't bother me. I hope that doesn't sound cold, but I'm a reporter, not a fan of the team. My job is to be neutral.

The environment feels better when they're winning, but the outcomes don't swing my emotions. I'd do the same things covering a 60-win team as a 20-win team.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

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