Game Time: 7:00 p.m. Pacific TV: Comcast
Though the Golden State Warriors come into this game with a 9-22 record, like the Philadelphia contest earlier in the week, this promises to be a game that's more perilous for Portland than the records would indicate. This isn't so much because of Golden State's talent or intimidation factor. I've long been on record saying the franchise ought to start over--new philosophy, new coaches, new players--because this show isn't working. Watching the Warriors is like going to see a movie with top-notch special effects but no plot, characters, or meaning...great eye candy, ultimately fruitless. Once again this year they're scoring more than 107 per game, generating a ton of possessions and fast break points, but giving up more than 112 in the process and losing like crazy. We've seen this experiment going since the Run TMC days. Time to try something different.
Nor is the perilous nature of the game because of Golden State's past success against Portland, as it was with Philly. They've won in their building, we've won in ours.
No, the perilous nature of the matchup lies in the puncher's chance. While the Warriors may not be better, bigger, more talented, or smarter than the Blazers they do still have that 107+ average. Give me a full roster and I'll take my chances anyway. But right now it's hard to imagine the Blazers generating 108 points. Only twice in 34 games has Portland scored more points than the Warriors average. Either the Blazers will have to put the afterburners on or they'll have to find a way to slow down Golden State. Portland cannot come in expecting to just play its normal game and win.
The Warriors are
missing no longer missing a couple of big guys in Andris Biedrins and Rony Turiaf. But Golden State needs big guys in order to score the way Brad Pitt needs cologne in order to score. Nice bonus if he's got it, but I think he'll manage anyway. They still have the nigh-unstoppable Monta Ellis leading the charge at 25.5 per game. Just as worrisome in this particular matchup they have Corey Maggette who routinely eats LaMarcus Aldridge's lunch. The guy is kryptonite to our second best player, who in turn is absolutely key to any chance of winning right now. After that they've got guys like Anthony Morrow and Stephen Curry who are like illegal fireworks on the Fourth. You never know what's going to happen when the fuse gets lit. Could be a dud, could blow your hand off instantly. Short-handed as they are, all of those hands can get hot. If they do it's curtains for the Blazers.
Keys to the Game
1. The Warriors are a bad rebounding team, particularly without Biedrins. Clean up on both ends and earn extra points the old-fashioned way: sticking back your misses.
2. Guards and small forwards have GOT to get back. Only big guys hit the offensive boards. Everybody else jailbreak for the other end on any shot.
3. Beware their propensity to steal the ball. They love forcing turnovers and playing with reckless abandon.
4. LaMarcus needs to solve Maggette and get his 20...at least.
5. Remember this team doesn't defend well. Work for the good shot, not just the easiest shot to take. You can't get into a jump-shooting contest with the Warriors but you do need to make the ones you take. Falling in love with the three-pointer is dangerous (long rebounds, running) but mid-range jumpers are nice compromises and should be open.
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