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Game 36 Preview: Warriors vs. Blazers

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I have some critical breaking news for you!  We actually get to talk about (gasp!)  A GAME!  That's right, a game!  That real, live bouncy-shooty-basketball thing that this team does when it's not contemplating litigation and crunching cap and tax numbers.  Seriously, the light schedule this week has been an absolute godsend when it comes to the Roy hamstring injury but it's been an unfortunate week to be dealing with all of this other stuff.  No distractions.

A Look at the Warriors

Here's the rundown of the NBA team hierarchy:

Champion or NBA Finalist

Championship Contender

Solid Playoff Team

Playoff Team

Playoff Contender

We're going to stop right there for a second because it wasn't so long ago that the Warriors were firmly ensconced right in the two lower designations there.  Let's continue with the non-playoff designations:

Tough Matchup

Could Beat You On Any Given Night

Complete Patsies

OKC Thunder

I'm giving you this rundown so that when I say, "You have to watch out for the Warriors because despite their .270 winning percentage they can beat you on any given night" it's both a literal description of the truth and a testament to how far they've fallen.

Golden State is in horrible shape right now.  Their game is all about getting up shots.  That's par for the course by the bay.  The problem is they're letting the opponent get up even more shots are their opponents are outshooting them 47.1% to 44.6%.  They allow more field goal attempts, more makes, and more points than anyone in the league.  And unlike in past years the offense just can't keep up.  The Warriors aren't getting up a lot of three-point attempts and they aren't great at shooting from that distance anyway.  Their high rate of foul shots drawn isn't enough on its own to make up the field goal discrepancy.  Welcome to 10-27.

Despite the offensive deficit the Warriors do a few things well.  They block more shots than anybody else.  They continue their recent pattern of forcing frantic turnovers (as well as committing them).  The byword in Golden State is "disruptive".  If they can get you out of your game they just swarm over you like locusts.  If, on the other hand, you stay on your feet against them then you're the Raid and they're history.

One of the reasons Golden State has a hard time winning if they can't bowl you over is their astonishingly putrid defensive rebounding.  They're not bad on the offensive boards but defensively they are the worst rebounding team in the league and it's not even close.  Combined with the...less than stellar defense that's a killer.

Despite all of this the Warriors still have plenty of talent.  The problem is that half of it is injured.  Guard Monta Ellis has been out for the season.  Now forwards Stephen Jackson and Brandan Wright are down as well.  That puts a lot of pressure on Corey Maggette and newly-arrived Jamaal Crawford to score.  Fortunately both love to do just that.  Maggette is recovering from injury himself but has been productive the last two games.  He's the kind of athlete that causes our smaller defenders trouble.  Crawford never met a shot he didn't like, defense or no defense.  Andris Biedrins continues to rebound the heck out of the ball.  He could either give the Blazer centers fits with his mobility and soft touch or he could get overwhelmed trying to stop Greg Oden.  It remains to be seen.  Guard Anthony Morrow, red-hot the last time the Blazers met and being trumpeted as the Next Big Thing has more than returned to earth.  He hasn't scored 20 since he last played Portland and has achieved double-digits only 7 times.  Kelenna Azubuike and C.J. Watson remain solid.  Those are the kind of guys who are going to have to have standout games if the Warriors are to beat the Blazers tonight.

Keys to the Game

1.  Take out Biedrins and you take out the Warriors.  They just don't have enough firepower at the smaller positions to make up for a bad game from him right now.  Push him around, keep him outside, and don't allow him any offensive rebounds.  Ballgame.

2.  The Blazers should feast like it was a Snickers commercial on offensive rebounds the Warriors will give up.  Leaving your end of the court without having scored should be a sin.

3.  If you penetrate, how are they going to stop you?  Please do.

4.  One place where the Warriors can get an advantage is on the line.  In particular we don't want them fouling out our stars, which includes Greg Oden.  Make them earn their points honestly even if they hit shots for certain runs during the game.  Better to have defended two-pointers go in than to give up threes or free throws.

5.  Don't turn the ball over to this team.

Final Thoughts

We really ought to beat this team tonight no matter how much or little (or if at all) Brandon Roy plays.  A loss would be disappointing.  It's hard to imagine this off-court stuff affecting the team's play but with all of the other junk going on a win would be just the tonic we need.  A blowout loss, however, would cause more confusion and angst than normal.  That better not happen though.

Check out the Warriors' point of view at GoldenStateofMind.

Enter the Jersey Contest form for this game here.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

BallHype: hype it up!