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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors Preview

The season finale comes today.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (33-48) vs Golden State Warriors (43-38)

Game 82 of the Portland Trail Blazers season tips off this afternoon, as the Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center.

The Blazers, shutting down most of their roster, continue to strive for increased lottery odds and the fifth-worst record in the NBA. A loss today will complete that mission.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are playing for much more than lottery odds on the final day of the season. Golden State stands at sixth in the Western Conference, but only one game separates the Warriors from the seventh-place Lakers and eighth-place Pelicans. A win today keeps Golden State out of the harrowing Play-In Tournament.

Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Sunday, April 9 - 12:30 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Not released yet.

Warriors injuries: Andrew Wiggins (out), Andre Iguodala (out), Ryan Rollins (out), Ty Jerome (day-to-day), Stephen Curry (probable), Jonathan Kuminga (probable)

More on the Warriors: Golden State of Mind

What To Watch For

The New Big Three. Portland started the season with a Big Three of Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons. Now the Blazers are ending the season with a Big Three of Shaedon Sharpe, Trendon Watford and Kevin Knox. Go figure. The trio has been Portland’s best performers during the late season tank job, restoring some entertainment for the present and some hope for the future. They all performed great yesterday as Portland gave the Los Angeles Clippers a run for their money — at least for three quarters. Knox popped off for 30 points (5-8 3PT) and 11 rebounds on 10-15 shooting, marking the second game in a row he scored at least 20 points. Watford also shot 10-15 from the field, scoring 24 points. And Sharpe scored 26 points on 10-20 gunning, to go along with 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. 21 of those points came in the first half alone. Let’s see how the new Big Three closes the season.

The GP2 Game. Today marks Gary Payton II’s first game in Portland since his infamous, short-lived Blazers tenure came to a close in February with a messy trade between the two franchises. Accusations were levied by the Warriors against the Blazers medical staff for its handling of Payton’s injury recovery, propelled by shoddy reporting from The Athletic. There was a pending investigation that resulted in nothing. Now Payton is a Warrior once again and all that remains is possible bad blood. So how will the Moda Center crowd receive Payton in his return? Will there be any extra animosity or trash talk between benches? The boo birds may be out in Portland this afternoon, along with hefty servings of beef.

Stephen Curry. Blazers fans in attendance today are in for a treat. It’s not a given this late in the season to see stars in action (just look at Portland lately), but with the Warriors jockeying for playoff position, they’ll be suiting up every healthy body they can to ensure a win. That means Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter ever to play the game, is likely to take the floor. Curry has been a thorn at Portland’s side for years now — well, less like a thorn and more like a Death Star blocking out the Sun. He’ll be a tremendously difficult cover for the replacement Blazers today, even for new stud point guard Skylar Mays. Let’s see if Curry, always the showman, has a dazzling performance in him for the regular season finale.

What Others Are Saying

Brady Klopfer of Golden State of Mind marked individual grades for the Warriors in their 119-97 win against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Klopfer gave high praise and an A+ to Kevon Looney, who put up 6 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and just 1 turnover.

Suffice to say, Looney’s return to the starting lineup was a success. How many centers not named “Nikola Jokić” or “Domantas Sabonis” are putting up seven assists with just one turnover?

I initially posed that question not meaning for it to be answered, but then I got curious. This was just the 25th time this season that an NBA center has had seven or more assists and one or fewer turnovers. 15 of the previous 24 times were by Jokić or Sabonis.

Anyway, Looney is freaking awesome.

In a piece by ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, Klay Thompson talks confidently about Golden State’s championship aspirations ahead of the postseason.

“I don’t see a team who can beat us in a seven-game series when we’re healthy,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors have won seven of their past nine games, including a 22-point victory over the short-handed Sacramento Kings on Friday night. The Warriors are on the brink of having their whole roster back together and are a win away from avoiding the play-in.

Thompson added that the team can play at a higher level despite a turbulent regular season. The main area for improvement is playing with focus for as much of a full game as possible.