The Portland Trail Blazers are facing the Golden State Warriors tonight for the second time this week and the third time in the month of December. Did the Blazers lose both games? First of all, how dare you ask... and sure, they did, but only by a combined eight points. Granted, the Warriors have looked much better lately—winners of their last four—but they are still without Draymond Green (indefinitely suspended for being a jerk one too many times) and it’s hard to tell whether Klay Thompson’s recent play is a return to form or the dead cat bounce of a Hall-of-Famer nearing the end of his time as a star.
That said, the Warriors remain a veteran-laden team whose most important players have a lot of championship experience being led by a well-respected and proven coach. The Blazers have none of those things. However, they are young: Portland weighted age is 24.9 compared to Golden State’s 29.8.
Could Golden State’s age and being on a back-to-back be enough to throw the Warriors back into a losing tailspin, guaranteeing the pick they owe Portland is as high as possible without reaching its top-4 protection? Tune in to find out!
Golden State Warriors (14-14) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (7-20) - Sat. Dec. 23 - 5:30pm Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Toumani Camara (probable); Shaedon Sharpe, Robert Williams III, Justin Minaya, (out)
Warriors injuries: Draymond Green, Gary Payton II (out); Andrew Wiggins (questionable)
Warriors SBN affiliate: Golden State of Mind
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
As has been Blazer’s Edge tradition since The Beatles decided to mess with all of us and pretend there was deeper meaning to I Am the Walrus, we’re asking you all to toss some questions at us for the game previews! Look for posts just like this one the night before the game, and we’ll plan to pick one or two (or more!) every game and answer them as best we can.
Simple: Adam Silver and the NBA schedule makers want us to suffer! Simple as that. Though I will say for those of us who want to see the Blazers win AND increase their lottery odds (vis a vis the Warriors’ pick owed to Portland being driven further down), you could do worse than facing this team multiple times without Draymond Green.
With Draymond Green being suspended, do the Warriors have anyone who can choke us, or punch us in the, um, family pack? (This bad humor sponsored by Toradol)
Chris Paul! Come on, this was too easy!!
Has Joe traded MB yet?
No... but if and when they do, it’s very likely the Blazers will go from a young, exciting team that loses a lot but is fun to watch when healthy to making you say “sweet Tennessee sugarplums, this team is BAD.”
Is Dray’s biggest learning edge that: He’s a front runner who’s currently too insecure to face the downslope of his career? His childhood trauma refuses to be repressed any longer and demands attention? He’s fundamentally selfish and needs higher purpose/meaning? Violent actions have unpleasant and unforeseen consequences? Leaders embody accountability?
I don’t pretend to know what’s going on with Draymond Green, but I’ll be honest: I actually do appreciate a slightly more thoughtful, growth mindset-orientated tact to his behavior than just saying “he is who is is and he can’t change.” Important note: for anyone to change, that person has to WANT to change. I don’t know whether that’s true of Draymond. What I do know is that his on-court violence is unacceptable and I’m glad he’s both being held accountable and being encouraged to get support to change that behavior.
Klay’s shooting has improved over the past month (now shooting over 40% from 3 in the month of December). Do the Warriors see him as returning closer to career norms overall, or is this a position they would be hopeful to upgrade at?
In a perfect world, the Warriors would have no qualms about trading an aging star who, despite playing better lately, has been showing the accumulated impact of his age and injuries. In the real world, it’s not easy to trade a franchise legend, and it’s not as if the rest of the NBA hasn’t seen what he’s looked like this year. Given that, I would assume they’re going to grip their hands together and hope REALLY hard that he keeps playing like he has lately and less like he did to start the year.
About the Opponent
In statements that surprised exactly zero people, F.P. Santangelo Sr. of 95.7 The Game says that the Warriors aren’t going anywhere this season if Draymond Green’s behavior doesn’t change.
“I think the juice isn’t worth the squeeze anymore... He can’t help you win if he’s not there... if you if you can’t control your temper, or you can’t control your passion in the sense that you’re getting T’d up twice and you’re in the locker room, or you’re getting T’d up and you’re getting suspended, you’re doing me no good as a player... they need the old Draymond to win, not this one. Because they’re not going to win with this guy.”
Tristi Rodriguez NBC Sports Warriors wrote that Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t see Draymond Greens’ indefinite suspension as all bad.
“I think there are always silver linings in cases like these where someone is out,” Kerr said Wednesday on 95.7 The Game’s ”Willard and Dibs.” “I look back at that year we had the worst record in the NBA. We had all those injuries. Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] out for the year, departures with Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston. [We] finished with the worst record in the league but you know what happened? Guys developed. Jordan Poole was thrown into the deep end and we had a group of young players who were forced to play and had to deal with adversity and learning about the NBA. … so there’s always a silver lining. As much as we miss Draymond and we want him back, it’s going to open up playing time and opportunities for other people.”
Tim Kawakami of The Athletic (subscription required) dove deep into the Warriors’ thinking behind drafting James Wiseman over a much more productive player, Tyrese Halliburton:
“That workout [with Tyrese Halliburton] was a few miles from here in Vegas,” [former Warriors GM Bob] Myers said on the broadcast. “Myself, Steve Kerr, Joe Lacob and he did what he does. He made a ton of shots and we looked at each other and said, ‘He might be pretty good.’ Different kind of shot, kind of a set shot, but he made them all... What bothers me more than anything was his workout was good, (but) when we met with him after, I should have known then because of how he is as a person and as a leader. Because you meet with people, you talk to them. But that conversation left a mark because of how smart he is and how confident. It’s not fake, it’s not arrogant, it’s confidence.”