Game 82 Preview: Warriors vs. Blazers

Well, well, well.  Golden State and the Clippers both won semi-improbable matchups last night, with the Clips squeaking by Phoenix and the Warriors pounding Dallas like they caught them kissing their sisters.  Guess what?  That makes tonight's game mean something.  If the Warriors win they're in the playoffs for the first time since they heyday of the Buffalo Bills, Heidi Fleiss, and the Unabomber.  (Bill Clinton and Conan O'Brien were just beginning their stints as President and late-night host, for comparison's sake.)  If they lose they have to hope the Clippers lose to New Orleans also.  Otherwise it's another year of futility.  Methinks they might be a tad motivated.

A Look at the Warriors

The Warriors are on quite a streak to end the season.  They've won eight out of their last nine games.  And the lowest point total they've had in those eight wins is 110.  Five of them have been in the 120's.  They're like a battleship that got broadside on you and is firing all the guns at once.  One of the main reasons is that Jason Richardson has come back alive.  Slumping and hurt through most of the year, he's scoring in the 20's and 30's again.  So is Stephen Jackson.  So is Baron Davis.  Their big small guys can cause a lot of trouble for opposing teams and with the streak they're on they are devastating.  When those guys aren't racking you, Al Harrington and Mickael Pietrus step in and do it.  Their athleticism is bound to cause us problems even on the best of days, and this ain't the best of days for the Blazers.

"Wait a minute," you say, "Don't they have any big guys?"  Not really.  They traded most of the good ones to Indiana.  But they don't need them.  The run and shoot is perfected here.  Don Nelson may have discovered the only style capable of satisfying the voracious need for shots that plagues all of these players.  You can rebound all you want.  You can try to defend too.  They're simply going to get a ton of shots up no matter what you do.  They attempt more shots than anybody in the league.  They shoot 24 three pointers a game!  They score the second most points in the league and allow more than anybody and right now they...don't...care.  They'll leave the carefully choreographed plan of attack to somebody else.  They're going Rambo on you all game long.

Since their size, skill, and willingness to throw themselves headlong into the fray are all going to play on the weaknesses of our hospital refugees tonight, I don't see much hope of a happy ending for us.

What I'd Like To See:

In theory this is simple:  keep them below 100, they lose.  Right now, though, that's like saying, "If you just keep the rain up in the sky you won't get wet."  At the very least we're going to want to make them work for their buckets.  They're average shooters, not very good at the free throw line, and hit and miss from long range.  Their success should be in direct proportion to the number of dunks they get tonight.  If we could rebound, take care of the ball, make them take time, and make it ugly we could have a chance.  I want to see that happen with six of our best eight players off the floor though.  We're not experienced enough to run that kind of game against them.  Heck, we're probably not capable of running any type of game against them.

Still, if you come out and play with enough heart anything can happen.  But this beleaguered team hasn't shown enough heart to make a difference in quite a while.  Maybe the chance to be spoilers will wake something up in them.  But I'd lay about 99% odds that we're going to watch the Boys from the Bay celebrate pretty big on our home floor tonight.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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