Despite waiting on league MVP Stephen Curry, as he continues to rehab a sprained knee, the Golden State Warriors have not lost a step. While Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have carried the load for the defending NBA champions, the entire roster has contributed in Curry’s absence including the Brazilian tandem of Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao.
Barbosa and Varejao combined for 10 points and 3 rebounds in Golden State’s 118-106 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series with the Portland Trailblazers. Never one to shy away from contact, Varejao was ejected from the contest in the third quarter, along with Blazers guard Gerald Henderson. After squaring off earlier in the game, the two were eventually tossed for continuing to jaw at each other.
“This is a playoff game, and it’s going to be trash talk out there, and it’s going to be situations like that,” Varejao told Bay Area media following the win. “It won’t be the first one. It won’t be the last one.”
Both Varejao and Henderson should be back in the lineup for Game 2 in Oakland tonight, with the Brazilian big man reassuming his role as one the game’s most effective irritants. Varejao endured injury and franchise ineptitude for several seasons in Cleveland with the Cavaliers, so seeing his disruptive demeanor on display in the playoffs is a welcome sight.
Until Curry returns, Barbosa has a better opportunity to make an impact, specifically from the guard position. As Portland’s defense continues to key in on Thompson, additional scoring is needed from the backcourt. Barbosa was a reliable cog in last season’s title run, so additional output from the Brazilian Blur would be a boon for the Warriors, along with his veteran outlook.
“Our team is not about getting buckets or ‘I scored this many points’ at the end of the day,” Barbosa recently told Sports Illustrated. “We want to win games and we want to do it together. The most important thing is the trust and trying to win a championship.”