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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors Preview

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Golden State of Mind staff writer Andy Liu stops by Blazer's Edge for a Q&A session discussing tonight's matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors.

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Portland Trail Blazers (51-27, No. 4 in the West) vs. Golden State Warriors (63-15, No. 1 in the West)
Thursday, April 9
Oracle Arena; Oakland, CA | "7:30 p.m." PST | Local TV/Radio: TNT; 620 AM
Out for the Blazers: Wesley Matthews, Dorell Wright | Out for the Warriors: N/A
SBN Affiliate: Golden State of MindTimmay's Viewing Guide

From time to time, Blazer's Edge collaborates with blogs that cover other NBA teams to get an in-depth view of Trail Blazers opponents from the people who follow them most. Today we'd like to welcome Golden State of Mind staff writer Andy Liu to preview tonight's Blazers-Warriors matchup.


Blazer's Edge: The Warriors have held the No. 1 spot in the West by roughly 10 games for weeks. Not that the seeding was ever really in question, but now that they're fully locked into the first slot, do you expect Steve Kerr to start resting players for the playoffs? Golden State doesn't have any back-to-backs from here on out and has wrapped up its road schedule for the year, but the rest for key guys could still be beneficial, right?

Andy Liu: Kerr did state the other day that rest is less necessary for this Golden State Warriors team because of their age. Andrew Bogut probably disagrees with that one but he's actually looked great as of late. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are the ones struggling. I'm not sure if rest will cure their ills but it might not hurt. Other than that, I do expect Kerr to rest them in the last game of the regular season against the Denver Nuggets, similar to what Pop does. It would make no sense to risk them playing big minutes so close to the postseason. 

BE: Golden State has lost two in a row -- one to the Spurs, who are rolling right now and one to the Pelicans, who got themselves into the eighth seed with the win. Do you think the losses were just circumstantial, or did San Antonio or New Orleans have a specific game plan that worked?

AL: I think part of the Spurs loss worked in Kerr's favor in that he wanted his team to taste failure to an extent. The Warriors have been nothing short of cocky all season (in a good way) and perhaps these two losses will ground the team in a way that re-focuses them. Game-plan wise, Kawhi Leonard totally disrupted the Warriors offense, to the point of shutting down Stephen Curry. The offense is struggling a little right now and getting Thompson right is part of the Warriors main goal. 

BE: The Warriors are known for (among many other things) their dynamic defense that can cover the whole court by switching on most screens. Do the Blazers have any matchups that worry you about Kerr's tactic of switching?

AL: The Warriors don't necessarily change their coverage from a game-to-game basis (rather, from their own personnel patterns) but anytime Damian Lillard shifts onto one of the lankier wings the Warriors can employ, it's scarier. Lillard has struggled shooting this season but he's so quick he can take over games going to the basket and shooting from outside. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut have also gotten into a bad habit of fouling a lot lately, as well.

BE: The last time these two teams played and Aldridge was healthy wayyy back in November, he scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting and pulled in 13 rebounds. What defensive methods do you think Golden State will employ to slow down Aldridge tonight?

AL: I don't think they'll plan on switching or doubling much in LMA's case. Like certain teams, the Warriors will not mind Aldridge going isolation-mode against their player. Now if LMA starts dropping four to five buckets in a row, then there could be changes but the Warriors don't mind most Green-power forward matchups. 

BE: Does Kerr have a fairly stable bench rotation along with discernible substitution patterns, or does he operate his reserve unit more situationally based on specific matchups? Who on the bench has been big for the Warriors lately?

AL: Kerr's substitution patterns have varied all season long - either benching Shaun Livingston or Leandro Barbosa for games on end or inserting Festus Ezeli or Justin Holiday as the first man off the bench. The same goes for David Lee and Marreese Speights, who round out the frontcourt. Lately, Andre Iguodala has played a massive role not only defending but scoring. As he's more comfortable shooting the ball the Warriors only get stronger. They need him more now especially with Barnes shooting the ball so awfully. 

BE: In terms of rebounding percentage -- on both sides of the ball -- Golden State has been pretty average since the All-Star break. The Warriors are 21-5 in that span, is that possible? Do they have a specific philosophy when it comes to rebounding?

AL: With Mark Jackson, they crashed the boards pretty hard. With Steve Kerr, lineups have also played a role in how they rebound. Sometimes, he goes small with Green at the five and with Green undersized to begin with, they don't much like to gang-board unlike bigger teams. So far, it hasn't come back to bite them but it might be an issue come playoff time. It also doesn't hurt that Stephen Curry has also spent a lot more time in the paint averaging 4.3 rebounds per game, about the same as last season but in 4 less minutes per game.

Special thanks to Andy Liu of Golden State of Mind for joining Blazer's Edge to preview tonight's matchup with Golden State. Follow Liu on twitter @AndyKHLiu.

-- Chris Lucia | | Twitter

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