Game Time: 7:30 p.m. TV: KGW
The Warriors come into this game 3-8, tightly clutching the coveted "At Least We're Not the Worst Team in the League" award by virtue of home victories over (wait for it...) the Timberwolves, Knicks, and Grizzlies. This exactly like Vanilla Ice saying he's a better listening experience than Milli Vanilli, Vicki from the Love Boat, and driving a slotted spoon through your brain. The take-away lesson here is not to be a no-defense-playing, messy-mismatched-talent-having doormat disaster of a franchise when you go to Oakland or they're going to drop a buck fiddy on you and send the fans home happy...or at least less unhappy than usual. Any team with a fingernail's worth of claim to legitimacy in this league has handled the Warriors. And the Kings have too.
(Note: Low blow there. Sacramento is actually 5-5.)
So what do the Warriors do? What they've always done. A brief explanation, to the tune of "Jingle Bells":
Run, run, run! Score, score, score!
Run run, score score score!
Run run run run run run run
Score score score score sco…ore!
Run, run, run! Score, score, score
Run run, score score score!
Run run run…the game is done
And we just lost one more!
So why does a team averaging 109.7 ppg (2nd best in the league), 22.1 fast-break points per game (1st), 47.8 points in the paint (3rd), 48.7% shooting percentage (3rd), and 38.9% from three (5th) lose so many games? A brief explanation, to the tune of "Silent Night":
Silent "D", Hole-y "D"
We score one, they score three
We can’t get the ball off the glass
Their rebounders are kicking our [*cough*]
Watch their score increa…ease!
Wa-atch their sc…awww, to heck with this! Run, run, run! Score, score score!
Run run, score score score…
(Note: Had the holiday season not been nearing that would have been, "Why can't we de-fend? Why can't we de-fend?")
In any case, the Warriors are scoring almost 110 per game but giving up more than 113. They're losing the rebounding battle like Sally Jessie lost to Oprah. And that's on both ends of the court. They're shooting 49% and giving up 50.5%. They're shooting 39% from distance and giving up 43%. They're making 26 trips to the line per game and giving up 28. They remind me of a guy trying to get over his financial crisis by charging everything to a credit card. No matter how wisely and well he spends the debt somehow always gets bigger. One wonders when the front office will simply file bankruptcy and attempt to start all over.
As if that weren't bad enough, Golden State is fielding fewer healthy players right now than you see in your average chess match. They just traded Stephen Jackson for Raja Bell and his pre-existing wrist problem. He's now having surgery on it. (How badly did they want rid of Jackson?) Andris Biedrins, Blazer-killer Kelenna Azubuike, Brandan Wright, C.J. Watson, Rony Turiaf, and Devean George are all out with various maladies and ailments. Who's left? Monta Ellis, Corey Magette, The Anthonys (Randolph and Morrow), Stephen Curry, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Mikki Moore. 5 out of 7 are 6'6" and under and all of them have the scoring mentality. Radmanovic is a finesse player. Mikki Moore is basically on an island out there. But that's OK. He and Vlad are suddenly getting 39 minutes per game which is like a week's worth of time for Radmanovic and a month's worth for Moore.
The one thing the Warriors do well outside of the run-score thing is turn you over. They get an enormous amount of steals and should continue to do alright even after the trades and injuries. You don't want to lose the ball to this group because they'll jump on it like a Doberman, race it down like a Greyhound, and then laugh at you like a hyena.
Also we'll reiterate what we always say when playing great offensive teams: they always have a puncher's chance. You're in the ring with a team that can knock you out even though their chin is made of glass and their guard is non-existent. Despite the tongue-in-cheek preview the Blazers do have to pay attention tonight. Give up your fundamentals, get loosey-goosy, and the Warriors will punch your ticket.
Pivotal Points to the Game
1. This is a huge contrast in tempos and styles. The Blazers aren't going to be able to stop the Warriors from running. The Warriors won't be able to stop the Blazers in the halfcourt if Portland makes any kind of effort. The in-between areas will determine the winner. The Blazers should have a massive control advantage on the boards. Aldridge and Oden should be able to offensive rebound to their hearts' content. If the Blazers bother to break down the Warriors at all with penetration every miss should have a legit chance of being scooped up by the good guys. The other side of that equation, though, is the guards and small forward getting the heck back. Assuming one guy is penetrating and two bigs are crashing the boards (or at least hanging out near the middle) that means the other two smalls better head the other way as soon as the shot leaves somebody's fingertips. Even if you're the coffin corner three guy you have got to get back and defend your goal tonight.
2. OK...let's do the math. Golden State has five guards, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Mikki Moore. The Blazers can attack with LaMarcus Aldridge, who is bigger and stronger than Radmanovic, and Greg Oden, who is bigger and stronger than the entire other team combined. Greg should be posting up about two inches from the rim tonight. Catch, spin, dunk. Catch, spin, dunk. See how easy that is? If you get stuck in the halfcourt, feed the bigs! You can do it in the post. You can do it by driving and trying to draw the big defenders for help and then flicking a pass through the lane. However you do it, do it! The stupidest, dumbest, most idiotic thing you can do is play into Golden State's hands by getting into that Happy-Fun-Jumper mode. They're going to beg you to shoot over the top. They don't care if you make it either. You're setting the table for them every time you settle for the long ball.
3. This is not to say the Blazers should never shoot a three. In fact Golden State defends the arc so poorly than threes are one of the ways Portland can keep the score up against the track stars. But the Blazers should not be shooting threes when anyone is within six feet of the shooter. There's no need for that. Drive it and then get a wide-open three later. And for goodness' sake, HIT your wide-open shots! All we need tonight is that weird, brain-sucking contagion that causes everyone to start missing shots they otherwise could hit in their sleep.
In short, just don't make this hard, OK? Play your game, pass, execute, and walk away with a "W".
Among our oldest friends on the network are the folks at GoldenStateofMind. Pay them a visit if you want. It's an experience!
You can find tonight's Jersey Contest form here (fixed). Don't forget that the form for tomorrow's game against the Timberwolves will be open as soon as this one is over.