Team Records: Portland (20-15) at Golden State (22-12)
Game Info: 7:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Golden State -7.5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Courtney Kirkland, Eli Roe
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off their shocking win over the Miami Heat Thursday night as they face a game in Lillard’s hometown of Oakland. The Rookie of the Year front-runner will doubtless have tons of friends and family in the stands as the Blazers take on the surprising Warriors. The Warriors are coming off two straight losses to the Clippers and the Grizzlies and always tough at home in front of some of the more underappreciated fans in the NBA.
Last Season: The Blazers won the season series 3-1 against the Warriors, including a rare win in Oakland.
Projected Warriors Lineup:
PF-David Lee (Florida-8th Season) 19.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.7 APG.
SF-Harrison Barnes (North Carolina-Rookie)-9.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt-Rookie)-2.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, .2 APG
SG-Klay Thompson (Washington State-2nd Season)-15.9 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.6 APG.
PG-Stephen Curry (Davidson-4th Season)-20.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.4 APG.
Player to Watch-Stephen Curry (pictured at right) – When Curry first made it to the NBA, many scouts wondered if his lack of size would limit his NBA potential. As we all know, they were wrong. One of the most gifted pure shooters we have seen in the NBA in a very long time, Curry has blossomed into a budding star. He is also a decent defender and a good rebounder for someone his size. Where he has struggled, however, is in his passing. If Curry is to become a true star, he needs to become a better distributor. Still, one has to think that at least a few of the six teams that drafted players before Curry in the 2009 draft are kicking themselves at missing the opportunity to get him.
Did You Know?: The Warriors are off to their best start since the 1991-92 season, and their next win will equal their entire total from last season.
Song of the Day: “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-There is some strange magic that comes over the Blazers late in games, its like someone puts a spell on them and they can’t lose. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), C Meyers Leonard (Ankle).
Golden State: Out-C Andrew Bogut (Fractured Ankle), SG Brandon Rush (ACL/MCL).
Golden State’s Game:
These ain’t your old Warriors. Sure they still play fast on offense, take lots of 3s and score lots of points but now they play defense as well. On offense, almost everyone on their team can shoot and make 3s at almost any time, and as a result they can score lots of points really quickly if their shots are dropping. On defense, they are aggressive and force you to shoot a low percentage (around 43%) and are especially stingy from deep (allowing only 32% shooting from 3). Perhaps most importantly, they do an excellent job limiting you to one shot on offense, sporting the second best defensive rebound rate in the league. If you want to know why their record is so much better last year than hit has been, its their defense more than anything else that has made the difference. When you can score and do a reasonable job stopping your opponents from doing so, you will be able to win a lot of games and the Warriors have.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make their 3 pointers. The Warriors are a stingy team from deep and as Portland relies heavily on the 3, if they can make their deep shots, they should be able to make Lillard’s homecoming a happy one.
Golden State wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. The Warriors are going to score a lot of points and at their pace if they can keep Portland under the century mark, they should win.