Game Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
After a tough loss to the Cavaliers at home, the Warriors will have to try their hand at beating the Trail Blazers in Portland. The Dubs, riding a two-game losing streak, don’t have much room for error, as the ninth-place Suns trail Golden State by just three games. In other words, every game from here on out will be key.
The Warriors have split their season series with the Blazers, winning the more recent matchup on Jan. 26 behind Steph Curry’s 38 points. This time around, the Blazers will be without power forward LaMarcus Aldridge due to a lower back contusion. Additionally, Klay Thompson will return to action after missing Friday’s game.
Nicolas Batum has filled in nicely in Aldridge’s absence, pouring in 22 points with 18 rebounds on Friday. He’s averaging 13.3 rebounds per game in March, and he’ll create some problems for the Warriors if they can’t contain him on the glass.
Point guard Damian Lillard snapped a bit of a cold spell by putting up 27 points on Friday. The battle between Lillard and Curry, two of the better young point guards in the NBA, should be one of the most interesting parts of the game.
Portland Trail Blazers (43-23) Projected Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Dorell Wright
PF: Nicolas Batum
C: Robin Lopez
Key Bench Players: Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson
Keys to Warriors Victory:
Take Advantage of Portland’s Turnover Troubles
It’s funny to say this because the Warriors are usually on the opposite end of the spectrum, but the Trail Blazers also have trouble with turning the ball over, meaning the Dubs must capitalize on that. For all the turnover troubles the Dubs have suffered from this season, they also do a solid job of forcing turnovers (14.7 per game, 10th in the NBA). When Damian Lillard turns the ball over, his team often loses, including a seven-turnover performance against the Rockets on Mar. 9.
Avoid Collapsing When Starters Leave
This has become such an obvious issue that it’s hardly even worth mentioning, but the bench struggles really did play an especially apparent role in the Warriors loss on Friday. (The starters had a combined +/- of 22, while the bench was at -67.) Steve Blake must learn to be a good ball distributor even with the personnel he’ll be stuck with on the floor, which certainly isn’t an easy task by any means. If the Dubs bench can eliminate the turnovers and hold down the fort until Curry and Co. come back in, the Warriors will be just fine.
6:00 PM PST, March 16, 2014
Moda Center, Portland, OR
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680 AM