Team Records: Portland (11-7) at Golden State (5-11)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on KGW, radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Golden State -3.5
Refs: Dan Crawford, Tony Nunez Jr., Leon Wood
The Skinny: The Blazers look to sweep their first of two back-to-back-to-backs this season as they travel to Oakland to face a team that has given them plenty of trouble over the years. The Warriors, who are always tough at home, will look to avoid their third-straight home loss. Golden State is the only team in the NBA to be winless against their own conference, sporting an 0-6 mark against teams in the West so far this year.
Last Season: Golden State won the season series 3-1. Golden State has won 10 of the last 11 games between the two in Oakland and has not lost a season series to Portland since the 2002-03 season.
Projected Warriors Lineup:
PF: David Lee (Florida, 7th season) – 18.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.2 APG
SF: Dorrell Wright (South Kent Prep (HS), 8th Season) – 9.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: Andris Biedrins (Latvia, 8th season) – 3.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, .2 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 7th season) – 23.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 6.9 APG
PG: Stephen Curry (Davidson, 3rd season) – 15.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.1 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 the second youngest team in the league, only two days older, on average, than the Sacramento Kings.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee); Probable – SF Gerald Wallace (finger)
Golden State: Out – C Kwame Brown (chest)
Golden State’s Game:
These are and aren’t the same Golden State Warriors we have gotten used to watching these past several seasons. They still rely primarily on three-pointers on offense and forcing turnovers on defense, but they do so at a slower pace than we’ve seen the past several seasons. Their play comes in fits and spurts, as seen dramatically in their last game against Memphis on Monday, where they let a 20-point third quarter lead disappear as the result of a complete late game collapse. On any given night, they can beat anyone or get beat by anyone depending on whether their shots are falling. They are extremely aggressive on defense, with the result that if you have the patience to pass the ball to an open player, you can beat them fairly easily. When they struggle, they tend to try and do everything on their own on the offensive end, and they don’t seem to run any sort of a structured offense. It’s almost enough for someone to state, to paraphrase their new head coach Mark Jackson, “Mama there goes that bad coach!”
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 sweep this back-to-back-to-back.
Golden State wins if: They do a good job passing the ball on offense. On any given night, either Monta Ellis or Steph Curry 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 11 of 12 wins over Portland in Oakland.