Game Time 7:00 p.m. TV: CSNNW
The Golden State Warriors come marching into town fresh off a win over Dallas, just as the Blazers garnered in their last game. The difference? That's the only thing that's gone right for the Warriors in over a month. Yes, there was one win against the Orlando Magic but other than that their only victories have been charity-oriented: Toronto, Washington, Minnesota. As it turns out this year has been DYSS for Golden State. Different Year, Same Story. They have a couple of enormously talented offensive guards in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Both have punished the Blazers before. Ellis scores 24 per game, Curry 18, and both average near 6 assists. They also have offensive-minded forward David Lee and three-point threat Dorrell Wright. And, you know, they have 10 other guys, none of whom play defense. And therein lies the rub. The Warriors aren't quite as dominant on the offensive end as they once were. They shoot 46% and score 103 per game. They're a giant three-point conveyor belt, attempting 21 per game as a team and hitting 39% of them. But they no longer strike fear with their fastbreak game, largely because even though they score a league-leading 19.3 per game on the break they give up a league-worst 19.6. Plus they're bad at defending the paint. Plus they give up a large shooting percentage. Plus they foul more than anyone than the Jazz. The only real advantage they retain offensively is the three-point gap, as they defend the arc fairly well. But who's stupid enough to just run down the floor and shoot threes against the Warriors? That would be like getting to line up and bands in the world for your big concert and choosing Stryper and R.E.O. Speedwagon. OK, nice enough I suppose, but you couldn't come up with anything better than that? Journey at least? They don't help themselves by having a defensive rebounding percentage that we're contractually obligated not to print because it's so low. (Put it in your shopping cart to see the number.) Literally you can get anything you want against this team and unless you're super foolish about tempo, super lazy about closing out, or they get super hot they're not going to generate enough offense to beat you.
The issue for the Blazers tonight is focus. The danger the Warriors present is that unstoppable roll. Much like the game against Dallas, the old "You shoot 70% and we'll shoot 60% and we'll reel you in as the game progresses" pattern the Blazers have evidenced of late will grant far too much leeway to a team that thrives on such. This team could score 70 in a half with momentum. Portland needs to jump on the Warriors early, make scoring difficult, and watch them fall apart. This involves large doses of getting back on defense and sticking with distance shooters, of which the Warriors have plenty. (Read: 6 of their top 10 players.) Making them make decisions when they defend is another key. Taking the first shot you see plays into their hands, particularly if it's a jumper. Work your screens, pass the ball, look for those backdoor cuts, and prosper. They don't coordinate well nor do they help out much.
Winning this game would clinch the playoffs for the Blazers. Hopefully that provides enough motivation to bear down and win it.
Golden State Of Mind is your Warriors hook-up.