Portland Trail Blazers (25-34) vs. Golden State Warriors (42-17)
The Portland Trail Blazers are back following the All-Star break, and for their first matchup of the second half of the season, they face the Golden State Warriors. The Trail Blazers won four straight prior to the break, but yesterday the team announced that center Jusuf Nurkic will be out for approximately four weeks due to plantar fasciitis. The Warriors dropped the two games before the break, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets respectively.
Thursday, February 24 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: TNT
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out),Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Keon Johnson (probable)
Warriors injuries: Draymond Green (out), Andre Iguodala (out)
SBN Affiliate: Golden State of Mind
What To Watch For
Tanking? Tanking! The fact of the matter is that players play, and they play for their pride as much as they play for anything else. The four-game win streak felt good, sure. Basketball was fun again in Rip City. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Now with Nurk sidelined for the forseeable future, look for the Blazers to steer into the skid.
Drew Eubanks. The former Oregon State Beaver recently signed a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. Eubanks plays a pretty traditional game under the basket, so don’t expect anything too flashy from his play, but he should bring solid contributions to the court, especially when it comes to snagging boards.
Can Anfernee Keep It Up? The level of play that Anfernee Simons brought to the Blazers prior to the All-Star break is part of what kept them going: slicing to the basket like a hot knife through butter, putting up nasty step-back threes — Ant was doing it all. Without Jusuf Nurkic to pair with in the pick-and-roll, things could look very different for Simons, especially if he doesn’t have strong backup.
What Others Are Saying
R.P. Salao of ClutchPoints notes the Warriors may not be able to afford to hang on to Andrew Wiggins this offseason.
However, the harsh reality is that the Golden State Warriors may not be able to pay him when the time comes. They already have massive deals in place for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The team is also reportedly eyeing an $80 million extension for promising guard Jordan Poole.
Couple that with Draymond Green’s own deal worth north of $50 million over the next two seasons and their three recent first-round picks in James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody totaling to about $20 million in salary. That leaves little wiggle room to operate, even for a team willing to spend like no team in history like owner Joe Lacob and the Golden State Warriors have.
Former Warrior Zaza Pachulia found fault with how other teams try to mimic the Warriors’ success on 95.7 The Game.
“He changed the game, he really did,” Pachulia said. “Even seeing the guys during the warmups and seeing the guys shooting from halfcourt during warmups, that’s because of Steph ... There were so many players trying to shoot threes like Steph behind the 3-point line.
“Even the teams when they try and assemble their teams, they try and assemble a Warriors team. This is so wrong in my opinion because you don’t have a Steph Curry, you don’t have a Klay Thompson, you don’t have a Draymond Green. And you’re trying to put pressure on the player to play like them? It’s just impossible. I don’t see that as realistic to build a team like the Golden State Warriors because you don’t have those personalities. You have to build a team according to the personalities you have, not to try and mimic and copy somebody else.”