Game Time: 7:30 p.m. December 25th TV: KGW and ESPN
Today and Christmas Day are going to be...slightly busy for me. So you get your Blazers-Warriors preview a day early. Plus there are a couple added bonus topics to this one, so stay tuned!
The Blazers and Warriors played just a couple days ago. If you'd like a fuller story, click here. Since that game Golden State lost to the Rockets at home and beat the Kings on the road. Monta Ellis averaged 40 points in those two games, so it's safe to say he's over his meager 26-point night against the Blazers. In fact that was a weird night all around, as you can see from the game recap. Portland more than doubled the Warriors in fast break points. LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews had pretty average nights compared to their recent production yet all of the normally-slumping Blazers stepped up for a game and covered. Portland looked like they were cruising to a win before Golden State mugged them in the fourth and almost stole the victory. The whole game was sloppy, almost ugly for both sides.
Though "weird" is an apt description for that game, "surprising" is not. Over the last few years the Blazers have played the role of George Bailey against the Warriors when playing in Portland. Even when things look dark somehow everybody bands together and it all works out. This has been true no matter the relative strengths of the two teams. It's just the way the script reads. That's the good news. The bad news is that as far as the Blazers are concerned when the venue switches to Oakland the plot looks a lot less like "It's a Wonderful Life" and a lot more like something out of "Deliverance". Nothing goes right for Portland by the bay. Suddenly a Warriors team that couldn't break in Portland is making like the Globetrotters. Suddenly a Warriors team that can't rebound against anybody looks like it's staffed with only Dennis Rodmans. Suddenly players that couldn't hit in Oregon can't miss in Cali. I don't know why it happens. It just does...again, seemingly irrespective of the relative strengths of the team.
Stephen Curry is on "possible but not probable" watch for this game. He didn't play in Portland. If healthy enough he could provide a huge difference, from outside in particular.
Portland is on a three-game winning streak right now. Portland is also facing a three-game road trip that continues after Christmas in Utah and Denver. Getting blown out would be a dire start to that trip. The Blazers will need to bring some semblance of their "A" game on Christmas to get this one. Everybody add that to your Santa list.
Bonus Topics of the Day:
1. One of the quandaries in this game is that both the Blazers and Warriors look better playing faster right now, especially with Portland missing Brandon Roy. How do you approach this game tempo-wise? Do you tell your guys to push it, knowing that if the game turns into an all-out run-fest the Warriors have more experience and perhaps advantage? Or do you try and play to the traditional Portland strengths and slow the game down?
2. Lakers coach Phil Jackson has gone on record saying he's not fond of Christmas Day games. Agree or disagree? I'm kind of in the middle. On the one hand these guys are paid millions while many folks paid far less work holidays. Then again you have a circle of business surrounding the games--including media, concessions, parking, and the like--employing people who also have to miss part of their Christmas because of these events. When it was just a marquee game or two it maybe wasn't such a big deal, but I suspect the NBA looked at everybody rushing to movie theaters on Christmas afternoon and asked, "Why not us?" I don't have a problem with it per se. You gotta do what you gotta do. But I'm not that fond of it either. Do you like Christmas games?
3. On game days (or in this case on days with a Game Preview) the preview thread will serve as a de facto Blazer Chat thread. Along with the game, feel free to discuss any Blazer topics of the day in this thread as long as they're not posted elsewhere.
See the fun over at GoldenStateofMind.
Enter the Jersey Contest form for this game here.