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Game 60 Preview: Blazers vs. Warriors

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A Look at the Warriors

You already know most of what you need to know about Golden State.  They score like George Clooney at a sorority party.  That's the beginning and end of the story.  You can pretty much count the number of times they haven't topped 100 this year on one hand.  OK, maybe an alien space hand, because it's seven.  And they've only won one of those.  But that's not incredibly likely to happen tonight as they've been over the century mark their last 21 games in a row.  In that same span of time we have done it four times.

Golden State averages 110 a game because they put up a disgusting, filthy amount of shots.  Phoenix is known as a run-and-gun team but the Warriors average more than 5 extra shots per game than the Suns.  The second place team is Denver and they're still +4.5 shots per game over them.   Teams like Boston and Dallas value possessions like a chef values gourmet dishes, laboring over each one until it's just right with the little leafy decorations and the circles of sauce on the plate.  These guys are the freakin' Old Country Buffet.  Just loosen your belt and dig in.  There will be more coming.

Golden State doesn't really pride itself on rebounding, defense, shooting percentage, free throws, or any of that crap.  The one big differentiator for them--the thing that makes this style work well--is that they are VERY good at taking care of the ball for a running team and VERY good at making you cough it up because you can't play their style as well as they can.  You may have done pretty well against your friends drag racing down your nicely-manicured suburban streets but these guys are gonna take your pink slip.  Seriously, the shell game looks pretty easy until you try it.

A lot of teams have found this out, as the Warriors' 35-22 record will attest.  And keep in mind that was with an 0-6 start.  35-16 in their last 51 equates to a 68.6% winning clip, which isn't too shabby.  However (comma) it's worth noting that two of those losses are due to the Blazers, who held the Warriors to 95 and 91 in those games.  We are the only team to hold them under 100 twice.  Another win might make folks suspect that we are the scissors to their paper just as they were the paper to Dallas' rock last season.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  We can't necessarily hold Golden State off of their tempo, but we don't necessarily have to in order to win.  The key is making playing their tempo harder for them.  The biggest determining factor there is ease of shots.  If they're running and scoring right at the basket, either in transition or off of drives in the halfcourt, they're going to have a cakewalk.  However if they need to get up 89 shots and the largest portion of those are jumpers then their system doesn't look so good.  That's when you get to rebound the ball.  That's when their lack of defense kills them.  This is judo...turning their desired attack to your advantage.  That's how the Blazers have won so far.
  2.  We've been excellent at taking care of the ball and we need to be again tonight.  No matter what they're doing we have to play at a pace that is comfortable for us.
  3.  Everybody has to show up on defense because almost all of their guys have the potential to lead the team in scoring.  You cannot pick and choose against this team the way you can against, say, the L*kers.  You better watch Mickael Pietrus' behind just like you watch Baron Davis'... and Al Harrington's... and Monta Ellis'... and Stephen Jackson's.
  4.  It's OK if Andres Biedrins gets a few rebounds on you (though he's not fared well against us and that's been one of our keys to victory) but don't make those other guys into rebounders also.  This is one of your main advantages.
  5.  If we do get a lead in this game we better remember that it's NEVER over against this team.  You have a down quarter against a normal team and you get to make a nice comeback try later.  You have a down quarter against the Warriors and you could be down 24 in the blink of an eye.  We'll need another L*kers-game type effort.
  6.  Our biggest battle tonight may be against the emotional letdown.  The problem with riding emotion like we did on Friday is that it leaves a void when it ebbs.  This is why most good coaches treat this like a business or problem-solving exercise instead of a crusade. The Blazers have shown the ability to follow big games with good efforts this year and we'll need more of that tonight.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)