Golden State Warriors (40-7) at Portland Trail Blazers (21-27)
Jan. 29, 2017, 6:00 PST
Watch: KGW, NBA TV; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out), Moe Harkless (probable), Ed Davis (out)
Warriors injuries: David West (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Golden State Of Mind
12:30 pm Update: Stephen Curry will not play tonight due to illness, and David West will miss the game due to injury, according to the Warriors.
Injury update: Stephen Curry (stomach flu) is OUT for tonight's game at Portland. David West (left thumb) is also OUT.— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 29, 2017
We exchanged questions with Carlos Murillo from Blue Man Hoop in preparation for tonight’s game between the Trail Blazers and the Warriors. Portland is enjoying a three-game winning-streak, while Golden State owns the best record in the NBA. Let’s now take a look at what makes the best team in the league tick.
Blazer’s Edge: With the All-Star selection process officially over, are you surprised that all four of Golden State’s stars made the roster? The Spurs have a similar record, but only have one representative. Does this have more to do with the superior talent the Warriors’ possess, or more with how the team is covered in the media?
Carlos Murillo: There are several reasons for this. First of all, the Warriors have four All-Stars because they have four guys that deserve to be on the team. The Spurs have maybe two, depending on how highly you value LaMarcus Aldridge. They're the top team in the league and winning gets rewarded.
More importantly, the All-Star Game is an event for the fans to get what they want to see. No one wants to see Aldridge’s mid-range shots, they want Klay Thompson 3-pointers. The Warriors have elite players that are equally exciting as they are talented.
Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green were no-brainers for me. Thompson was a close one so I think name recognition could have played a role, but having the best record surely helps.
BE: Durant is currently shooting 54.3 percent from the field this season, which is well above his career average. Are you surprised his transition has gone this smoothly in Golden State? Does the credit go to Durant’s efforts, or to the Warriors organization as a whole?
CM: It's hard to say that a guy shooting that well doesn't surprise you, but we've started to become desensitized to the incredible things that the Warriors do. But I feel like this product was relatively predictable.
There was never any danger of it not working. The "only one ball" argument was just a coping mechanism from everyone outside of Golden State. Putting together stars doesn't always work, but the Warriors' stars' skill-sets were clearly compatible.
Durant has elevated his game. He's showing a new focus, probably stemming from all of the backlash he received. But the team is doing a great job of getting him great looks. The two-time MVP (Curry) has sacrificed a lot to get KD involved.
The team has gone all-in on making Durant comfortable, but he's also just playing out of his mind.
BE: If Durant wins the NBA MVP award this season, will that add to Curry’s legacy as well? After winning it in back-to-back years, it would say a lot about his willingness to do what is right for the team.
CM: One of the biggest knocks against Steph has been that he's not a "true point guard." Curry had one of the greatest offensive seasons ever after he knocked down 402 threes and led the league in scoring. To elevate your teammate to the MVP after that kind of season says a lot about his willingness to sacrifice.
Steph's having a season that lines up closely with his first MVP. He's producing at a high level while making an effort to make Durant as comfortable as possible. Even if KD doesn't win the MVP, Curry's willingness to defer is something special and, probably, unlike anything we've ever seen.
Ultimately, championships will define their legacies because, really, they're two elite players that have proven themselves to be all-time greats before they were teammates.
BE: For all of Green’s antics, he is putting together a stellar defensive season. Adding Durant has been helpful, but is Green still the catalyst behind the Warriors’ No. 1 ranked defense? If he is, does it make him the frontrunner to win Defensive Player of the Year?
CM: Absolutely. Green really is the heartbeat. He provides the energy on both ends.
On a team with Curry, Durant, and Thompson, it's been Green who has been the most clutch. He's saved multiple games on the defensive end, stopping guys like Dennis Schroeder, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis with the game on the line.
I believe the Defensive Player of the Year is a two-man race between Green and Rudy Gobert. I'd give Draymond the edge because of his versatility that allows him to take guards and centers. I think if Golden State can finish as the top defense after everyone questioned them on that end, he should finally get the DPOY he deserves.
BE: Finally, let’s talk about something serious. Which is worse; Meyers Leonard’s varying hair styles to start the season, or whatever that is that JaVale McGee has going on?
CM: I have no idea what JaVale's doing. It doesn't work at all, but, in a more real sense, it sort of does just because he's JaVale. But from my understanding, Leonard has a reason behind his hair. Kind of. He said he's also just wanted to grow his hair out and just goes with the flow.
I'm going to give Leonard the benefit of the doubt and say that McGee's is worse. Really, there's no winner here though.
Make sure to stop by Blue Man Hoop for more coverage from the Warriors’ perspective on tonight’s contest. Thanks again to Carlos Murillo for answering our questions.
Blazer’s Edge Kids Night 2017
Help us send 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring! Read about Blazer’s Edge Kids Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!