When the Warriors led the Clippers by seven points with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game, it appeared as though the Dubs had an excellent chance to head home riding a six-game winning streak with the momentum to possibly make up some ground in the Western Conference.
Instead, the Warriors relinquished that lead, and they’ll have to rebound (literally and figuratively) against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at ORACLE Arena. Luckily for Golden State, the Cavs have won just three of their last ten games, though they’re also coming off a victory against Phoenix on the road.
The story of the game will be Jarrett Jack’s return to ORACLE Arena, though the ex-Warriors sixth man has had a tough season and doesn’t figure to pose much of a threat to Golden State. With that being said, let’s see how the Dubs and Cavs match up.
Cleveland Cavaliers (25-40) Projected Lineup:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jarrett Jack
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Spencer Hawes
Key Bench Players: Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters
Keys to Warriors Victory:
In case you missed it, Klay Thompson will miss Friday’s matchup to attend his grandfather’s funeral. The Warriors could already have trouble knocking down threes, if their 10-of-33 performance in the Dec. 29 matchup between these teams is any indication, but Thompson’s absence only makes it look worse. Add Curry’s recent struggles to the mix, and it’s looking even more as though the Dubs’ best strategy would be to attack in the paint, where they outscored the Cavs 48-24 in that December matchup. The Warriors big men will be as important as ever on Friday night.
Warriors overcame a 17-point deficit against the Cavs earlier this year, but it’s probably safe to assume they’ll look to avoid another slow start this time around. Much of that will hinge upon a solid defensive effort from the get-go: The Dubs have been able to jump out to solid first-quarter leads during their recent winning ways when they’ve limited opponents early from a defensive standpoint. David Lee will have to be on his game with Cavs PF Tristan Thompson’s efficient performances over the past several games (55.7 FG% in his last seven games), and Andrew Bogut will also be tested against Spencer Hawes, who has shot the ball well (47.5 FG%, 54.8 3P%) in his 10 games with Cleveland.
Continued Bench Production
During the Warriors’ recent hot spell, the bench has unquestionably played a significant role. Jermaine O’Neal certainly hasn’t played like he’s 35, shooting 54.8 percent in February, including a stretch of three-straight double-digit rebound games, all Warriors victories. Steve Blake has proven to be solid facilitator, averaging 3.6 assists per game in just 21 minutes of game time, and Draymond Green has been lighting it up from downtown (44.4 3P% in March).
7:30 PM PST, March 14, 2014
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680 AM