WHO: Golden State Warriors (23-13) at Portland Trail Blazers (20-15)
WHEN: Saturday, December 29th at 7:00 p.m. PST
WHERE: Moda Center — Portland, Oregon
WATCH: NBA TV, NBCSBA
LISTEN: 95.7 The Game
BUDDY BLOG: Blazer’s Edge
Injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles rehab) out
On the road again
When the Warriors play away from Oracle Arena this season, the outcome can be determined by a coin flip. The Dubs boast a sheepish 8-8 away record. And after a long week of games, including the Christmas prime time game—and a messy overtime loss to Portland on Thursday—they face the Blazers again on Saturday night.
Players to watch: Klay Thompson and Draymond Green
Both players’ respective struggles this season are well documented but entirely distinct. Thompson is shooting more than ever and missing more than ever. And while his misses are fundamentally changing the point spread of games, his cold streak has little to no effect on how teams are strategizing against the Warriors.
As noted (below) by Steve Kerr in his post-game presser on Thursday: nothing is wrong with Klay Thompson. While his confidence on offense isn’t at an all-time high, he remains a staunch defender and essential contributor. The shots will fall...eventually.
So tonight, I suggest watching Thompson as you always have. Expect him to make the shots, be appreciative of his defense, and assume the best. He’s going to be fine.
Steve Kerr said he sees nothing mechanically wrong with Klay Thompson’s shot: “I’ve never seen a more technically sound shot than Klay Thompson’s. It’s spectacular.” Compared it to Iron Byron, if you know golf. pic.twitter.com/xrqWjhrswg— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 28, 2018
Should you worry about Draymond Green?
I am—but that doesn’t mean you should. Here’s my case.
The Blazers ignored Green on offense Thursday night. Expect them (and other teams) to continue ignoring him. They have no good reason to care about Green on offense until he gives them a reason to care.
On Thursday night, Green scored 15 points—his third highest single-game point total of the season. And sure, he hit a big corner three in overtime on Thursday. But he’s seemingly forgotten how to shoot a basketball as he’s hit 22% of his three pointers this season. Is he still one of the best defenders in the league? Yes. Is he still an essential part of the team? Of course. But his lackluster performance thus far this season is changing how teams play the Warriors.
Kevin Durant’s missed shot and Steph Curry’s key turnover on Thursday are not leading storylines heading into tonight. Green’s performance is though.
Why is this game important for Portland?
The Blazers have every reason to care about tonight’s game. The Western Conference is bunched together and every game matters. Damian Lillard is establishing himself as a top-ten player in the NBA, and there’s no better time to prove yourself than against the hometown team and the defending champs. And Lillard’s not alone. Jusuf Nurkic is licking his lips for another chance against a nonexistent Golden State center.
This is not a big game in the long run but it’s a big game for the Warriors’ short-term confidence heading into the new year. Something’s got to give.