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Steve Kerr says DeMarcus Cousins got Warriors through tough stretch

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised center DeMarcus Cousins as a big reason the back-to-back NBA champions have seen a boost the past few weeks.

The Warriors enter Thursday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers having won 11 games in a row and appear to have found a new gear since Cousins made his season debut on Jan. 18 after missing almost a year as he recovered from a left Achilles injury.

"No dog days this year," Kerr said after Wednesday's practice. "It's been nice. I think he personally got us through what would normally be the tough stretch. Let's face it: We had some tough days earlier in the season, between injuries and some drama and all that stuff. So it doesn't feel like a normal January, February point of the schedule. It feels fresher, and a lot of that has to do with DeMarcus."

Cousins has provided the Warriors an offensive weapon at the center position that they haven't had before, and he has repeatedly said how much he has enjoyed playing with his new teammates. Cousins is averaging 15.2 points and seven rebounds in his five games so far this season.

"It's fun, man," Cousins said of playing with such a talented lineup. "It's fun to share the responsibility. It's fun to play with talent. It's fun to play with guys just as talented as yourself. The game becomes a lot easier for everybody on the floor. You're not always the focal point. You don't always have to see double- and triple-teams on a nightly basis. It's fun."

Cousins said recently that part of the reason he has enjoyed his time with the Warriors is that everybody knows where to be on the floor.

"I feel like it's a team full of high IQs," Cousins said after Sunday's practice. "When you put a team of high IQs together, it's kind of easy to get on the same page and play the right way, so I just think it's a good fit, a good situation, everything's kind of working out. Not saying that it's perfect, but it's working out a lot smoother, a lot easier than I guess you could say a lot of people expected."

Kerr also noted that Cousins' presence on the blocks takes pressure off Draymond Green, who is in the midst of his best stretch of the season.

"He's playing as well as I've ever seen him play," Kerr said of Green. "The assist-to-turnover ratio is spectacular, kind of unheard of. And it's not just the assist, it's the push, it's the constant pressure he's putting on the defense. And then picking up the ball if nothing's there and moving it on. It's a highly underrated skill in the NBA."

Green, who missed Monday's win over the Indiana Pacers to rest a couple nagging injuries, will play against the Sixers. The matchup between Cousins and Sixers center Joel Embiid is one Kerr is intrigued to see.

"It'll be fun," Kerr said. "It's rare. You don't see it, but each guy has his own dynamic of the modern game. The ability to shoot and put the ball on the floor, make plays from the perimeter. So it's not quite like an old-school battle down on the block. Both guys spend a lot of time on the perimeter. I think it will be fascinating to watch."

For Cousins, the matchup serves as his home debut at Oracle Arena. After all the work he put in to get back on the floor, he is looking forward to the extra cheers that are expected to come his way on Thursday.

"I worked my ass off," Cousins said. "That's as simple as I can put it. I worked my ass off. I just come out and try to play the right way. I guess when you're playing the right way, good things will happen for you."