DeMarcus Cousins can continue to get better with four weeks to playoffs

DeMarcus Cousins can continue to get better with four weeks to playoffs originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — The most unwelcome sight on an NBA floor this week may have been that of Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins doing more good work in 32 minutes than Rockets center Clint Capela did in 40.

Much of the NBA was, like the Warriors, curious about the Cousins-Capela matchup. The contrast in styles led to some trepidation. The Warriors are anxious to see if Boogie could keep up with perhaps the most athletically hyperactive center in the league?

If not, there was legitimate hope of Houston taking down the Warriors.

If so, go ahead and send the Warriors directly to The Finals.

Cousins responded by essentially turning the question around: Does Capela have the strength and savvy to keep Boogie from owning the paint?

The answer was no. Cousins was the player of the game Wednesday against the Rockets, with 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Finishing at plus-7, he was the only Warriors starter to finish on the plus side.

Sure, the Rockets could have presented more challenges to his defense – and they likely will if the teams meet in the postseason.

But Cousins earned a lot of trust with the way he handled himself, making plays at both ends. Any doubt has been diminished. The Warriors are moving ever closer to believing he can thrive against most any lineup.

So now the league has to look elsewhere for a way to neutralize the Warriors when Cousins is on the floor. The outside-inside game is a problem and it’s starting to look as if Boogie can find an advantage over any of other Western Conference centers that could pose a serious threat to the Warriors.

He’ll get Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams on Saturday and Cousins is quite capable of winning that matchup. It’s a battle of classic big men, and Boogie has a much deeper toolbox than the Thunder center. Put another way, Adams likely should have more difficulty with Boogie than Boogie with Adams.

Cousins last week solved Denver center Nikola Jokic, who has earned a few MVP votes. Cousins has not faced Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic, but the Trail Blazers are not considered a legit threat beat the Warriors in the postseason. Cousins didn’t play well against Utah’s Rudy Gobert, but that was more than a month ago — and only three weeks after Boogie was activated.

The Cousins of mid-February is not the Cousins of mid-March. He’s averaging, over his last seven games, 19.0 points (on 53.1-percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.86 blocks per game.

He’s on a one-year contract that expires in June. He’d like a long-term deal, and playing well on a championship team could open that door. Boogie knows what time it is.

The fire already burning was turned up last Sunday, when Cousins was sitting on the bench watching the final 5:32 of a loss to the Suns in Oakland. He was determined to make a point in Houston. He wanted one and all to see that he is not a liability against the league’s younger, friskier centers. He also wanted to show coaches and teammates that he’s ready for fourth-quarter minutes, regardless of the opposition.

Point made, emphatically.

The playoffs are four weeks away. It’s reasonable to believe Boogie can continue to get better.

[RELATED: Warriors seek road rhythm against OKC]

The Warriors signed Cousins because they felt he provides a dimension they have not had under coach Steve Kerr. They were patient with Cousins, allowing him to heal and improve his conditioning before putting him in a game.

Eight weeks later, they have their new dimension is on display.

Read the original article at https://sports.yahoo.com/demarcus-cousins-continue-better-four-174148909.html?src=rss.