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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors Preview

The last-men-standing for two teams decimated by injuries will face off at Moda Center and hope that no one else gets hurt.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (18-26) vs. Golden State Warriors (10-34)

January 20, 2020 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out), CJ McCollum (out)
Warriors injuries: Steph Curry (out), Jacob Evans (out), Kevon Looney (out), and Klay Thompson (out), Glenn Robinson III (questionable)
How to watch on TV: TNT
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Golden State of Mind

The Portland Trail Blazers will once again be severely short-handed, with the recent trade not yet official and CJ McCollum still out after turning his ankle. A reinforcement has arrived in the 7’1” shape of Moses Brown, but the Blazers will still be giving too many minutes to too few guys. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, the Blazers fought valiantly but ultimately ran out of gas, losing 119-106.

The Golden State Warriors are perhaps the only team that can compete with the Blazers in a contest of who has the ugliest looking injury list in the NBA. Without their two biggest stars, the Warriors are racking up losses. 10 out of the last 11, in fact. The most recent game, however, was a win, 109-95 against the Orlando Magic. It’s a battle of the beleaguered! The Blazers have the best player on the court, but Golden State actually has enough players to, you know, have a basketball team. If you can predict how this will play out you are a better person than I am.

What to watch for

  • Keep the Faith. Portland has lost their last two games, but not for a lack of trying. The Blazers’ effort has generally been pretty good lately, something that you can’t say has been consistent throughout the season. Given how short-handed the Blazers are until their new reinforcements arrive, it would be easy to take the night off and mark the loss down as a result of circumstances outside of their control. However, this is a winnable game in spite of the lack of Blazer bodies and the limited talent the team can put on floor. Playing with effort and desire might very well be the difference when neither team can feature many of their best players.
  • Preventing points in the paint. The Blazers gave up 64 points in the paint against the Thunder. That’s not going to get it done. Fortunately for the Blazers, the Warriors are in town. The Blazers are short-handed at the center and power forward positions, but Golden State’s bigs aren’t exactly tearing up the league. Draymond Green is averaging 8.4 points per game, while Willie Cauley-Stein is at 7.9 points. Eric Paschall leads their bigs at 13.8 points per game. Keeping the Warriors’ bigs at around their averages and preventing easy buckets around the basket for everyone else will be key for Portland.
  • Light up the scoreboard. The Warriors are scoring 105.2 points per game, 26th in the NBA. They’ve reached 120 points just four times this season. For comparison, the Blazers have done it 11 times. Want to win a game? Score more points than your opponent! But seriously, if the Blazers can hit them hard and fast, Golden State isn’t a team that can typically keep up. So there you have it: Blazers, go out and score a lot of points.

What they’re saying

Brady Klopfer of Golden State of Mind has the Warrior perspective on jersey sales data:

Injuries, apparently, mean little in the popularity department. Curry was joined in the top 15 by his former teammate Kevin Durant, and by rookie Zion Williamson, neither of which have played a single game this year.

A nice piece on Klay Thompson’s career at Washington State by Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle:

A shooting guard had decommitted from the Cougars weeks earlier, and Johnson had been asked to find a worthy replacement — a tricky task so late in the recruiting cycle. While watching a top Los Angeles-area AAU program’s B team in an auxiliary gym, Johnson was captivated by the gangly teen whose shooting motion didn’t change, his shoulders relaxed and follow-through minimal regardless of the situation.

Eric Ting of SFGate reports that Charles Barkley hasn’t forgotten about Draymond Green:

With the Warriors hosting the Denver Nuggets in TNT’s late game, Barkley, who once said he wanted to punch Draymond Green in the face, took some time to revel in the struggles of the Warriors.

”Is Draymond playing tonight?” Barkley asked, seemingly mocking Warriors big man Draymond Green for missing multiple games for rest this season. “Draymond don’t talk as much since he’s averaging that triple single.”