Programming note: Nuggets-Warriors coverage gets underway on tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND – Five days before the season opener and only four before they have to set the roster, the Warriors inch along with two barely submerged matters ever closer to reaching the surface.
The first has to do with the makeup of the opening-night roster, and it probably won't be as hard as Steve Kerr says it is.
The second has to do with who will be the starting small forward. It's a far more complex issue and ultimately more germane to the season-long goal of the team.
Three weeks into the Andre-Iguodala-or-Harrison-Barnes experiment, Kerr still expresses uncertainty about which will be introduced when the Warriors face the Kings next Wednesday in Sacramento.
For the moment, though, it's Barnes. He will get the start Friday night at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors conclude their preseason schedule against the Denver Nuggets.
"My guess is we'll do it similarly to what we did the other night, start Harrison and bring Andre off the bench with (Leandro) Barbosa,'' Kerr said Thursday night. "That's been a really good group. I'd love to see them one more time.''
The Iguodala/Barbosa tandem works because the 6-6 Iguodala can serve as the primary ballhandler and also defend big guards, while the 6-3 Barbosa can play off the ball on offense while defending backup point guards.
There is also Kerr's observation that Iguodala can stir his teammates to play off his orchestration, while Barnes' skills are more suited to playing off the actions of his first-unit teammates.
"What I will say is nothing is certain,'' Kerr said. "I like what I've seen from that. I'm also aware that Andre's never come off the bench in his life. It's an adjustment. It's not easy for him. We'll do it again (tonight). We'll figure it out.''
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
1) How well Barnes plays, particularly with the first unit. The better he looks, the more likely he is to remain the starter.
2) How well backup center Festus Ezeli moves, and how long he plays. He was terrific in an 11-minute appearance on Tuesday, his first action in 17 months. It's reasonable to anticipate some slippage.
3) Who gets minutes from the far end of the bench? Strictly on merit, the deep reserves seem to stack up in this order: Justin Holiday, James Michael McAdoo, Jason Kapono, Aaron Craft, Mitchell Watt, Sean Kilpatrick. Put another way, the first two would seem to have the best chance to crack the roster.
G Shaun Livingston (recovering from toe surgery) remains out indefinitely. F Brandon Rush (back spasms) is out and scheduled to be reevaluated next week.
The Warriors overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Denver when the teams met Oct. 16 in Des Moines, Iowa. McAdoo was the catalyst, scoring 16 of his game-high 20 points in the final quarter.