Team Records: Portland (15-14) at Golden State (11-14)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW/ESPN and online on ESPN3, radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Golden State -5
Refs: Dick Bavetta, David Jones, Haywoode Workman
The Skinny: The less said about last night’s game the better. It sucked, and it sucked a lot. Now without Aldridge, the Blazers hope to somehow someway get a win in a place they almost never do, Oakland. The Warriors have won three straight and have been playing well, so they will be even tougher than usual.
Last Time they Met: The Blazers fought hard but in the third of a back-to-back they simply ran out of gas. Stephen Curry notched 32 and David Lee 26 as the Warriors pulled away late in their win.
Projected Warriors Lineup:
PF: David Lee (Florida, 7th season) – 18.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.6 APG
SF: Dorrell Wright (South Kent Prep (HS), 8th season) – 11 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Andris Biedrins (Latvia, 8th season) – 2.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, .3 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 7th season) – 22.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6 APG
PG: Stephen Curry (Davidson, 3rd season) – 16.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.6 APG
Player to Watch: Monta Ellis (pictured at right) – Nothing epitomizes the Warriors of the past several years more than Monta Ellis. Willing to shoot whenever he has the ball, whether wise or not and not putting in much effort on D, Ellis is living proof that just because you have good numbers doesn’t mean you deserve an All-Star spot. Although his coach disagrees, and even though he is having perhaps the most complete season of his career, Ellis is not quite at that level. Too often late in games, he will take a so-called “hero” shot, which almost invariably misses, costing his team a chance at the win. He will have to improve on this if he wants to be headed to the All-Star game in future years.
Did You Know?: Warriors head coach Mark Jackson was the 1987-88 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Song of the Day: Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” – In this song, Cash sings about how our mistakes eventually catch up to us. It certainly did for the Blazers last night and so this song is quite appropriate for this team (plus there is never a bad time to play some Johnny Cash):
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle)
Golden State: Out – C Kwame Brown (chest)
Re-Evaluating Golden State: Defense?
Golden State of the past several years has been pretty consistent in that they play good offense and almost no defense. This year, part of their success has been a result of changing that. Their defensive efficiency is still bad (104.1), but that’s a far cry better than the 107.6 mark they posted last year or the 109.4 mark the year before that. Much of this seems to be simply a matter of effort. The Warriors are no longer seeing defense, as a break between their offensive possessions and are trying to stop the other team. They’re still not very good, but at least they are no longer the defensive laughingstock of the NBA and that’s something for a team that had been that way for years.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make their open shots. Golden State gives you plenty of open looks. If Portland can knock them down, they should be able to avoid their usual Oakland hex and bounce back from the horrible loss to the Wizards.
Golden State wins if: They do a good job passing the ball on offense. On any given night, either Monta Ellis, Steph Curry or David Lee is capable of putting up big numbers on their own. However, in order to beat a team like Portland, they need to do a good job passing the ball to the open man. If they can do so, they will probably make it 12 of 13 wins over Portland in Oakland.