Steph, Warriors guards pushing pace while attacking glass


DALLAS -- With the Warriors back at American Airlines Center to take on the Dallas Mavericks, everybody will be locked in Tuesday night watching Steph Curry and Luka Doncic. The reasons are obvious. 

Doncic (33.1 points per game) and Curry (31.4 points per game) are the NBA's top two scorers so far this season. Curry is the veteran with four rings, two NBA MVPs and one Finals MVP after beating Doncic and the Mavs a season ago. The younger of the two continues to be a preseason MVP favorite as people look to crown the Mavs star basketball's next big thing. 

This battle isn't only about scoring, celebrating ridiculous 3-pointers and handing out dimes to their teammates. There's a hidden element to the latest Curry-Doncic showdown: Rebounding. 

Not only are these two the best at getting buckets, they also lead all point guards in rebounding. 

As the center of everything the Mavs do, Doncic is a consistent triple-double threat. Curry is getting closer. Doncic is averaging 8.7 rebounds per game thus far. Right behind him at the position is Curry with 6.8 rebounds. 

Here's the difference: Curry is listed as 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. Doncic, on the other hand, stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds. Both of their weights might be a bit under reality as well.

Curry's rebounding averages easily are a new career high. His previous best was 5.5 rebounds per game two seasons ago. Only Kevon Looney, the Warriors' lone traditional center right now, is averaging more boards per game for Golden State.

And the margin couldn't be slimmer. Literally. 

Looney is at 6.9 rebounds per game, a whopping 0.1 more than his point guard. 

"Me and Loon always laugh because I steal a lot of rebounds from him, just running around and trying to chase them down," Curry said Monday after Warriors practice.

No, Steph isn't out here padding his stats. Adding 15 pounds of muscle since the unanimous 2015-16 MVP season certainly helps. There also is a major benefit to Curry hitting the glass harder. 

Getting the ball in his hands always is a major plus. Curry also is one of the best passers at pushing the ball deep down the court. Over the Warriors' current three-game win streak, Curry is averaging 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. 

In that span, the Warriors also have 33 more fastbreak points than their opponents.

"That helps start the break quicker," Curry explained. "I think that's obviously bumped up so far 20 games in. I've made it a point to get the long ones, box out from my position. That kind of positional rebounding, I just enjoy it.

"So it's not really a new point of emphasis, just doing it a little bit better." 

Curry isn't the only Warriors guard getting in on the action, too.

Klay Thompson snatched six rebounds in the Warriors' recent 11-point win against the Utah Jazz. Donte DiVincenzo has totaled at least five rebounds in four of the 13 games he has played this season, and finished with a season-high six rebounds in the Warriors' blowout win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night. Jordan Poole has even added four rebounds in each of the team's last two wins.

Then there's Draymond Green, who at 6-foot-6 can be a power forward, center or point guard at different times for the Warriors. One part of his game will stay consistent. Whether it's an errant shot or a made one, Green isn't here to waste any time at all.

"Yeah, when we push the pace we're at our best," DiVincenzo said Monday. "You see Draymond even on made baskets we'll get it out and Draymond will push it so fast that we get an easy layup.

"But for the guards to rebound to limit second-chance opportunities -- when we can get out and run, that's when we get most of our open looks."

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The Warriors as they begin rounding into form rank third in points per game (117.8) and second in pace. They're 8-3 in the last three weeks, with one of those losses being a game where Curry, Thompson, Green and Andrew Wiggins all were in street clothes. It's no coincidence they also lead the NBA in fastbreak points per game since Nov. 7. 

Speed beats size in today's NBA, almost every time. Led by Curry's nose for the ball, the Warriors have been off to the race and wins finally have started to rack up. Keeping that same strategy in Dallas can play a big part in propelling their win streak to four in a row.

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