Before each game, Warriors guard Kelly Oubre Jr. sits on the sideline, letting his mind go blank as he gazes at the hardwood.

“I’ll just look at the four lines on the court,” Oubre said. “I just block out everything that’s not within those four lines.”

Oubre began that practice a half-decade ago, but it has perhaps never been more important than this season. An extended shooting slump to start his Warriors tenure made him an easy scapegoat for the team’s inconsistency. As he became the target of trade rumors and heard speculation that he should be demoted to a bench role, Oubre tried to keep his focus on what he could control: arriving early to practice, listening to coaches, cheering teammates.

Eventually, Oubre often told himself, he was due for a breakthrough. Little more than a third of the way through the season, he is finally making good on the Warriors’ faith in him. His three consecutive double-doubles are a career-high. Over Oubre’s past eight games, he has averaged 19.3 points on 47.9% shooting (44% from 3-point range), 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

His ability to stay in front of opposing wings is a big reason the Warriors enter Monday night’s home matchup against the Cavaliers with the NBA’s eighth-best defense. Even when Oubre’s misses were mounting, he used his 7-foot-3 wingspan and lateral quickness to make life difficult on such superstars as Damian Lillard, De’Aaron Fox and Paul George.





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