The Portland Trail Blazers will face the Golden State Warriors tonight in the Moda Center, a clash between one of the hottest upstart teams in the NBA and the cagey World Champions. That’s the storyline in theory, anyway. In practice, whatever team the Blazers end up playing will be a shadow of the actual Warriors, as injury reports are flooding Twitter this afternoon, none of them good for Golden State.
Change of plans, Stephen Curry will not make the trip to Portland.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 9, 2018
Trail Blazers staffer Casey Holdhal continues the list of Warriors missing in action.
Jordan Bell (right ankle sprain), Stephen Curry (tweaked right ankle), Andre Iguodala (left wrist sprain), Patrick McCaw (non-displaced fracture, left wrist) and David West (right arm cyst) are all OUT for tonight’s game vs. Trail Blazers— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 9, 2018
Haynes reports that Klay Thompson is scheduled to play, but is not immune to the litany of woes.
Klay Thompson tells ESPN he experienced some soreness in his hip tonight, but says “I’ll be fine. It’s nothing serious.”— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 9, 2018
The timing is fortunate for the Blazers’ short-term prospects, as they remain locked in a battle with multiple Western Conference foes for playoff seeding. Golden State’s injuries do rob Portland of the chance to test their new-found prowess against an opponent they’ll certainly face in the post-season if they progress beyond the first round. In effect it duplicates an old Gregg Popovich ploy from the days when the San Antonio Spurs were untouchable. If a pretender to the crown got hot late in the season, the Spurs would sometimes rest significant portions of their lineup against that team. The opponent did not get to measure their success against the true barometer before it counted. The added implication was, “This game may matter to you, but it doesn’t mean a darn thing to us.” That’s not to imply that Golden State’s lineup exodus is in any way intentional; it simply has the same effect. If the Blazers win, it’ll be against half a lineup with no bearing on reality or the playoffs. If the Blazers lose, they’d have lost to an octopus with four tentacles tied behind its back. Either way, Portland can’t really take anything long-standing away from it...except a better chance at a high playoff seed, of course, which they’ll happily run to the bank with.
Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News adds this postscript:
The Warriors will play as underdogs for the first time this season. Portland is a one-point favorite tonight.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) March 9, 2018
And our own Miles Custis has the complete preview of tonight’s game.