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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors Preview

Could a cure for the Blazers’ road woes come in San Francisco?

Philadelphia 76ers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (10-9) vs Golden State Warriors (16-2)

The Portland Trail Blazers followed up a solid 4-0 homestand with an incredibly disappointing 125-121 loss to the Sacramento Kings. The opportunity to put that game firmly in the rearview mirror won’t come easy as they travel to San Francisco to face arguably the best team in the NBA right now in the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors are on fire. Winners of their last five and, well, 16 of their last 18, the Warriors are flying high with the prospect of getting even better when Klay Thompson returns. This isn’t exactly the team the Blazers want to be facing right now, but there is an upside. Win this game and you have the opportunity to kick start the season. A signature win couldn’t come at a better time for the Blazers, and there is no better place to bury their road woes than San Francisco.

Friday, November 26 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Anfernee Simons (questionable)
Warriors injuries: Klay Thompson (out), James Wiseman (out), Andre Iguodala (out)
SBN Affiliate: Golden State of Mind

What To Watch For

  • Better defense. Please. Portland gave up 69 points in the first half against the eleventh place Sacramento Kings. That’s not nice. For most of the game it was a familiar story: open threes, and penetration with limited resistance leading to baskets for the Kings. Now the Blazers get to try to put together a better defensive performance against the Warriors, a much, much better team than the Kings. Is a good defensive performance possible against the Warriors? Sure! Is it likely? Well, let’s think good thoughts, shall we?
  • Find their weaknesses. Golden State leads the NBA in points per game, three pointers made, defensive rebounds, and assists. They are second or third in the league in field goal percentage, three pointers attempted, rebounds, steals and the (low) number of their shots blocked. So, what are they bad at? Well, they are 21st in offensive rebounds, but... <checks notes> ...that’s probably because they don’t miss all that many shots. What else? Hmmm... I guess they turn over the ball a lot. The Warriors are 27th in the NBA in turnovers at 16.1 per game while the Blazers are 10th with 13.8. Maybe there is a scenario where the Blazers can generate turnovers that lead to easy buckets while protecting the ball themselves. Let’s go with that.
  • Dame vs. Steph. Sure, it’s a bit cliché, but from the Blazers perspective a huge point disparity between Steph Curry and Dame Lillard in Steph’s favor is almost certainly a death sentence for Portland. On paper Portland absolutely needs Dame to at least hang with Steph, and on paper the Warriors absolutely don’t need Steph to hang with Dame. Curry has scored less than 21 points five times this year, and Golden State has won all of those games by margins of 21, 22, 41, 13 and 15 points. We’ve certainly seen Lillard have exceptional games in the Bay Area. For the Blazer to win they are going to need another one.

What Others Are Saying

Andrew Wiggins is drawing fouls like crazy according to Sean Keane of Golden State of Mind.

How many fouls did Wiggins draw tonight? According to the stat wizards at NBA.com, eight! That’s a lot, and a big reason why the jump-shooting Warriors managed to shoot 24 free throws. Wiggins has turned it up recently, a direct result of his going to the basket more. Look, I am using statistics pretty liberally in this piece, but based on the eye test, Wiggs is simply going to the basket more, and when he does, he’s not settling for stepbacks and fadeaways nearly as often. It’s like at age 26, he’s finally realizing he’s stronger and tougher than almost anyone checking him.

Jordan Poole is breaking out for the Warriors and is really helping the team according to Gabe Fernandez of SFGATE.

While this would have been a welcome sight under any circumstances for Golden State, it’s especially huge for a team that has started out so hot this season. With players like Poole performing well, it requires superstars to carry less of the load with regards to this dominance. This not only applies to Curry, but also later Klay Thompson, who will almost certainly still need some time to readjust to an NBA game’s pace after rehabbing a torn ACL and Achilles.

Is there anything not going to perfection for the Warriors right now? I guess there’s this from Joe Viray: