NBA Game 3 questions: Will Curry play? Will Durant play better?


By Brian Mahoney - AP Basketball Writer



Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) goes to the basket as Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends during the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green, right, yells after being fouled by Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won, 115-106. At left is Rockets' Trevor Ariza. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Houston Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff gestures during the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


The Oklahoma City Thunder are certain Kevin Durant will play better.

The Golden State Warriors may not know until Thursday night whether Stephen Curry will play at all.

It’s the NBA version of the Texas two-step.

With two Western Conference playoff series moving to The Lone Star State for Game 3s, the biggest questions surround the former MVPs.

Durant didn’t look like one of the league’s best shooters in Game 2 on Monday, when he was 7 for 33 in the Thunder’s 85-84 loss to Dallas. It was the most missed shots in Durant’s career, and the Mavericks capitalized to even the series with the third-seeded Thunder.

Russell Westbrook said his teammate missed some easy shots, but “that won’t happen again.”

In the lone Eastern Conference game Thursday, Toronto travels to Indiana with the series tied 1-1.

The Warriors lead Houston 2-0, having little trouble with the Rockets on Monday even while Curry rested his injured right ankle.

Golden State lists the NBA’s leading scorer as questionable. He said Wednesday he wouldn’t have been able to play if the game was that night.

“It’s different in the training room walking around versus on the court doing actual basketball moves. But it is getting better,” Curry said.

A look at the three games Thursday:

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Raptors at Pacers, series tied 1-1. 7:30 p.m., NBA TV.

Indiana has contained All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan but not center Jonas Valanciunas, who is averaging 17.5 points and 17 rebounds and has sparked Toronto’s 32-15 advantage on the offensive glass.

There will be fewer rebounds to get if DeRozan and Kyle Lowry start hitting.

Lowry is 7 for 26, though he played better in Game 2 after the Pacers won the opener. DeRozan is 10 for 37, joining his backcourt mate at 27 percent, and has missed all five 3-point attempts.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey doesn’t want DeRozan to force shots, and his teammates are confident they’ll come through when the Pacers force DeRozan to give up the ball.

“I still think they’re going to try and take me and DeMar out. I think that’s still going to be their primary play,” Lowry said. “They probably want those guys to do what they’ve been doing and those guys are hurting them. They’re playing extremely well.”

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Thunder at Mavericks, series tied 1-1. 7 p.m., TNT.

Dallas seemed to get some good injury news Wednesday. Dirk Nowitzki and JJ Barea both said they felt better after some rest, and Nowitzki said he expects to play Thursday after bruising his right knee early in Game 2. Barea is hopeful he can return after sitting out with a strained right groin.

Deron Williams, David Lee and Devin Harris all are still with one ailment or another, making for some long odds against an Oklahoma City team that won all four games in the regular season before a 108-70 rout in Game 1.

“Banged up as we are, we’re here to fight,” Nowitzki said. “We’re here to make this a series, but they’re going to come in ready to play obviously.”

And play better, in Durant’s case.

“I’ve just got to make them next time. I’ve got to prepare, put the work in. It’s going to happen, nights like that. That’s part of the business,” Durant said. “I’ve just got to keep staying confident. My teammates and my coaches stay confident in me.”

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Warriors at Rockets, Golden State leads 2-0. 9:30 p.m., TNT.

Even if Curry remains out or limited, the Warriors have shown they’re deep enough to win without him. Shaun Livingston got the start at point guard and scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting during Golden State’s 115-106 victory Monday.

“It doesn’t matter if he plays or if he doesn’t play. As you can tell, they’re still going to run their offense, they’re still going to pass, still going to do all that stuff,” Houston’s Dwight Howard said. “So we just have to make sure that we come out and do what we need to do.”

For Rockets coach JB Bickerstaff, that means playing nastier basketball to match the aggression he said the Warriors are showing.

“This isn’t Tuesday night in February in Milwaukee,” he said.

The key is doing that without leading to fouls. Howard, who fouled out of Game 2, believes the Warriors get away with things that he doesn’t.

“They won the championship, so in order to beat them you’ve got to play better than them. Because you’re not going to get any calls,” Howard said. “It’s just like a boxing match. If you want to beat the champ you’ve got to knock them out. If you expect to win a decision it’s going to be hard. So you’ve got to go knock them out.”

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AP Sports Writers Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City, Schuyler Dixon in Dallas, Mike Marot in Indianapolis, Kristie Rieken in Houston, and freelance writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) goes to the basket as Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends during the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_109909748-cf00a888c86044539412e48f0eff5736.jpgOklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) goes to the basket as Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends during the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, right, yells after being fouled by Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard (12) during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won, 115-106. At left is Rockets’ Trevor Ariza. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_109909748-8afafd7ad6084214bdd4cf4d3d26a0af.jpgGolden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, right, yells after being fouled by Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard (12) during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won, 115-106. At left is Rockets’ Trevor Ariza. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Houston Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff gestures during the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_109909748-f064c6496f774b3da04617218e743311.jpgHouston Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff gestures during the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Brian Mahoney

AP Basketball Writer

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