OAKLAND -- After struggling with a patchwork roster the past two weeks, help will arrive for the Warriors Thursday night when they face the Bucks at Oracle Arena.
Both Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are eager and ready to return.
The Warriors (54-20) lost both games with Durant, Green and fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out and have dropped six of nine with one or more of them on the sideline.
Though Milwaukee (39-35) almost certainly will be in the playoffs, it currently is the No. 8 seed in the East and struggling to rise. The Bucks were 23-22 under coach Jason Kidd, who was fired in January, and are 16-13 under interim coach Joe Prunty.
Warriors by 5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Draymond Green/Kevin Durant vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Warriors, as they typically do when facing a superior talent, will rely on a variety of defenders against the Greek Freak. He's top-5 in scoring (27.2 ppg), top-10 in rebounding (10.0) and top-20 in field-goal percentage (53.3). Durant can match his length, while Green relishes the challenge. On the other end, Antetokounmpo has to deal with Durant. This is one of the juiciest battles in the NBA.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness) and F Draymond Green (flu-like symptoms) are listed as probable. C/F Chris Boucher (L ankle sprain) and F Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain) are listed as questionable. G Stephen Curry (L MCL sprain) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.
Bucks: C Thon Maker (R groin strain) is listed as doubtful. G Malcolm Brogdon (L quad tendon injury) and G Matthew Dellavedova (R ankle sprain) are listed as out.
Warriors: 4-6. Bucks: 5-5.
Bill Kennedy (crew chief), Brian Forte, Tre Maddox
The Warriors won the first of two meetings this season, 112-94, on Jan. 12 in Milwaukee. They swept both games last season and are 6-1 against the Bucks in the Steve Kerr era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
RETURNING STARS: Durant missed six games during a 14-day absence and Green has been out since March 19, a three-game absence. While Durant was active in rehab/practice, Green was coping first with a pelvic contusion and then flu. Durant needs to get his timing, while conditioning may be an issue for Green. It's unfair to expect a cohesive start but the Warriors should look a bit more like themselves as the game goes on.
THE ROTATIONS: With Durant and Green returning, the bench benefits. The Iguodala-Livingston tag-team should be in effect, as should the Bell-Looney tag team. Though still thin at guard, Nick Young should benefit from better spacing while Durant and Green provide two more players capable of running the offense.
PAINT PROTECTION: The Bucks have become a relatively efficient offensive team, ranking third in field-goal percentage (47.9). That number plummets when they are forced to launch from deep. They're shooting 35.5 percent beyond the arc, 22nd in the NBA, with Khris Middleton's 36.3 percent tops among the usual starters.