Game Preview: Warriors Looking To Improve Defense Against Blazers
In the first meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, things got physical in the third quarter and the Warriors didn’t have a response. Although the Warriors led 77-63 at the time, three ejections changed the momentum of the game and they eventually lost 113-101.
With two straight losses to start their five-game homestand, the Warriors hope to improve their defense. In the last two games against the Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State is allowing 111.5 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Frontcourt: In their first meeting, the Warriors couldn’t contain LaMarcus Aldridge. The MVP-candidate had 30 points and 21 rebounds, including 11 made free throws in the fourth quarter. Since then, no one has been able to stop Aldridge especially in the past five games. The power forward is averaging 30.2 points and 13.4 rebounds.
While all the attention will be on Aldridge, the Warriors will have to make sure that Nicolas Batum doesn’t have a breakout game. The six-year forward out of France has struggled in the past four games — only averaging seven points on 32 percent shooting.
Backcourt: While Damian Lillard missed his first six shots and didn’t score until the second quarter in the first meeting, he won’t have another game like that in his hometown. Although he has been struggling these past five games by averaging 15.4 points on 39 percent shooting, Lillard can explode at any moment.
Joining Lillard is Wesley Matthews, who destroyed the Warriors with 23 points on 8-9 shooting. While he won’t likely post those type of numbers again, the Warriors need to be cautious of his three-point shooting and run him off the line.
Keys to Warriors Victory:
Defensive Intensity: With the Warriors facing the number one scoring (109.5) and rebounding (46.5) team in the league, they will have their hands full. To be successful, the Warriors have to run Portland off the three-point lane and force contested twos.
Bench Productivity: While the starters have played fairly well, the bench needs to be productive and all eyes are on Harrison Barnes. Although he has played well as a starter, the second-year forward has struggled finding his place off the bench and the past five games haven’t been pretty. Barnes is only averaging 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 25 percent from the field.
Portland Trail Blazers (33-11) vs. Golden State Warriors (26-18)
6:00 PM PST, January 26, 2014
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680 AM
Trail Blazers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Nicolas Batum
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Robin Lopez
Key Reserves: PG: Mo Williams, SG: C.J. McCollum, PF: Thomas Robinson