Inside the Scope: Portland Trail Blazers x Golden State Warriors
- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PST
- Television: CSNBayHD
Portland Trail Blazers Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 106.3 (5th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 101.3 (14th in NBA)
Scope the Opposition: Portland Roundball Society.
Preview: The Golden State Warriors (8-5) are reeling. They have lost back-to-back games to the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers and in the process, their offense has taken a nosedive.
The Dubs were without Stephen Curry in the last two contests and in addition, Andre Iguodala strained his hamstring in Golden State’s most recent game. The highflyer will not need surgery but no timeline on his recovery has been provided per Sam Amick.
The Dubs’ offense had already fallen apart without Curry and things will only get worse without Iguodala. There is literally no one left to play point guard on the team given that Toney Douglas is also sidelined with an injury.
Hide the women and children for the apocalypse has begun in Golden State!
Perhaps that was a tad dramatic, but then again, the schedule is not exactly favorable. The Warriors’ next five games will be against the Portland Trail Blazers (11-2), at the New Orleans Pelicans (6-6), at the Dallas Mavericks (9-4), at the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3) and at the Sacramento Kings (4-8).
The stretch starts tonight against a Blazers team who scores very efficiently from the field. They accomplish this through a series of plays that trick defenses who place an enormous emphasis on shutting down LaMarcus Aldridge.
Indeed, it’s no secret that through the years, Portland has had a penchant for running pick-and-pops for Aldridge. Also, the Blazers love to run some actions that create movement and result in their best player getting the ball on the block.
Because this is common knowledge, Portland uses this information to trick defenders. For instance, they will have Aldridge act like he is going to set a ball screen, only to see him set a pick for a wing player that cuts directly to the basket for a catch and finish.
In addition, they will have him set the off-ball screen and then run towards the ball-handler for another pick. Again, it spreads out defenses and provides his teammates with creases if the opposition keys in on Aldridge.
It’s interesting to watch because Portland does not have any shot creators outside of Damian Lillard. Wes Matthews has been really good this year and that has been a product of him taking advantage of the schemes centered around containing Aldridge.
Teams have occasionally helped off him and he has made them pay. Lillard’s dribble penetration has also been a key factor in Matthews’ production this season. Portland is a jump shooting team and as a result, their offense is lethal when they create great looks on the hardwood.
All of the players on the roster essentially manufacture their shots based on the way defenses gravitate around Aldridge. The Blazers have simply found the perfect way to utilize him to create scoring opportunities both for himself and also for his teammates.
One thing worth noting about Matthews’ play in 2013-14, he deserves all of the credit in the world. Some of his looks come directly as a product of late rotations and scheme, but he makes the most out of his chances.
When matched up one-on-one against defender, he will put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. If the drive is not available, he will set defenders up that are expecting him to shoot the ball by pump faking and then creating an open shot for himself.
The art of manufacturing a great shot is a terrific skill and so is the actual ability to put the ball in the hoop. When looking at his percentages from different areas on the court, Matthews is converting at least north of 47 percent of his field goals from every area on the floor per NBA.com.
In other words, he’s a dangerous perimeter player. Joe Swide of Portland Round Ball Society said it best:
“The Dark Knight may not be a strong enough comparison for the way Wes Matthews is playing right now. No disrespect to Bruce Wayne, but he’s just a dedicated guy with a lot of disposable income (say, that sounds like someone else I know). Wes is on some magical bit-by-a-bioengineered-spider-or-Kobe-Bryant-or-both-or-he-is-actually-the-dude-from-Taken-taking-over-the-body-of-Zeus type stuff.”
Yours truly is an avid Batman fan and yet, that sentence as a whole was in no way blasphemous with respect to the Caped Crusader. If anything, it highlighted the challenges Golden State will face tonight in defending an entertaining Portland team.
The Warriors’ mission tonight will revolve around two factors: defense and clutch offense. The offense will probably be an issue once again if Curry cannot play and consequently, the defense will have to keep the Dubs in the game.
As it pertains to the clutch offense, it has been a disaster this season. The Warriors have been incredibly predictable in this setting this campaign because of their reliance on isolations. They must get away from that and attack favorable matchups.
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