The Scouting Report: at Golden State Warriors
Projected starting line-up: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut
Thursday is the third and final meeting between the Warriors and the Trail Blazers. The Warriors, who have lost two straight games, will be looking for the season sweep of Portland.
It’s unfortunate that injuries have gotten in the way of a true rematch between these two teams. They met in the first week of the season in Portland and the Blazers threw the game away in the final seconds. Klay Thompson made a huge shot, the Blazers threw the ball away again, and the Warriors escaped with a five-point win.
The Warriors’ defense is suffocating and that has not changed since the last time these two teams met.
The Blazers were without LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Chris Kaman in the second meeting. The Blazers jumped out to a good start but the Warriors’ greatness and the fact they were playing Alonzo Gee extended minutes eventually caught up with them. They tried to match the Warriors’ small line-up but tonight we will get something of a more even match-up.
I keep on hearing in my twitter mentions that the Warriors have not yet hit adversity. Or that they are just an offensive team. Both notions are absolute crap. These guys are the best team in the league and it’s impossible to deny. They are the number one defense by a wide margin and Steph Curry creates excellent offense with just his mere presence. They are 3rd in the league in defensive efficiency.
They do all of this while being first in pace, averaging more possessions per game than any other team.
They are coming off two disappointing losses: a blowout loss to the Spurs where Kawhi Leonard destroyed them and a close loss to the Pelicans who were fighting for their playoff lives.
They probably will not rest anybody tonight and tonight’s match-up should be much more competitive, at least for a longer period of time. Aldridge is an interesting test for the Warriors.
Most teams are forced to double team him because they are unable to guard him with a single player. Draymond Green was tasked with guarding him in the early November meeting. Green is a legit contender for defensive player of the year and if he can handle Aldridge again, that’s just going to add another notch to his belt. But Aldridge is mostly unguardable, unless he’s playing Rudy Gobert.
Andrew Bogut also owned Robin Lopez in the last meeting, especially in the second half when the Warriors pulled away. Bogut is looking healthy and confident, even unleashing behind-the-back dribbles in halfcourt sets as well as bringing up the ball from time to time.
The Blazers are in for a tough test against the league’s most adaptable team and one that patiently runs through it’s offense to create easy looks from the 3-point line or at the rim.
Without Dorell Wright, Stotts doesn’t have as many options to match with the Warriors’ smallball line-ups. Meyers Leonard will likely get his crack against the Warriors second unit, alongside Robin Lopez.
Portland has gone big recently and the Warriors prefer to go small. Not only is it a match-up of two good teams but also a match of contrasting styles.
REMINDER: We are going to be chatting live during Blazers-Warriors in the Blazer Banter kave on the FanKave app and we will be joined by TrailBlazers.com’s Casey Holdahl. It’s available on iPhone and Android. Select the Trail Blazers as your favorite team and you’ll be in the kave. Simple as that.