Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
7:30 P.M. PST
Oakland, California - ROARACLE
TV: None (Radio: KNBR 680AM)
Blog Buddy: Blazer's Edge
The Warriors return to Roaracle to play their final preseason game before the regular season opener against the Lakers. While this is the last preseason game until the regular season, it's also the second game of a preseason back-to-back (Really, NBA?), so expect Mark Jackson to have his starters and key role players not play extended minutes.
Per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, Harrison Barnes is out again due to "foot inflammation" that is oddly not plantar fasciitis — nobody knows how long he'll be out or when he'll begin playing, but Mark Jackson believes he'll be ready for the opener.
Offensively, look for Golden State to continue running numerous pick-and-rolls featuring Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to get practice running the offense as secondary facilitators. Defensively, Golden State played zone the most in the NBA, and this was a key component that helped them lead the league in defensive rebounding percentage, per NBA.com. This season with the additions of Douglas and Iguodala, and Bogut healthy, they should be able to scrap that in favor of nearly all man-to-man defense (I'm curious to see if Warriors break out a super-small lineup featuring trapping and/or a full court press, that has Kent Bazemore, Iguodala and Toney Douglas wreaking havoc defensively).
Most importantly, the Warriors should try to get a amalgam of starters and role players on the floor together to see how they mesh with each other — find the lineups that work, and the ones that don't.
This is also the final preseason game for Portland. Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge/SI's The Point Forward reported Wednesday that LaMarcus Aldridge will play tonight after missing time with a sore knee. While Golden State is coming off a back-to-back and will rest their starters, Portland head coach Terry Stotts remarked that his minutes alignment would resemble "a rotation we'll use in the regular season."
Portland has made strides in the offseason to improve their league-worst bench. They've acquired Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson essentially for free, signed Mo Williams and Dorell Wright, a former Warrior, and drafted C.J. McCollum, who broke his left foot earlier in the preseason (Preseason haters alert!) and is out for at least five weeks. Damian Lillard, the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year, plays his second game in Oakland in front of his hometown friends and family. It will be interesting to see how Portland operates without Damian Lillard or LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor, and how they implement their new pieces.
Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote about Portland in the offseason: "If they can get to somewhere around league-average defensively, and combine that with a top-eight offense, they'll have a good shot at making the playoffs. And the ingredients for a very strong offense are here."
Lillard and Aldridge, two of the best offensive players in the league, can carry an offense. Even though Lillard played the most minutes per game last season in the NBA and took a ton of bad shots as a result of being on a bad team, he should have an improved shot selection that involves less midrange shots and more threes. Aldridge, one of the best forwards from an offensive standpoint, can also play the five (like David Lee). Also like Lee, Aldridge's name has come up in numerous trade rumors and it will be interesting to see how Portland navigates those intriguing waters.
Portland is looking to jump into the playoff picture just as Golden State did last year, with an electric point guard, double-double machine from the power forward slot, and complementary parts around them. Golden State is looking to be able to consistently beat under-500/barely playoff teams — like Portland — as they move into the upper echelon of the Western Conference. It should be an interesting game featuring possibly two Western Conference playoff teams with exciting players.