Who: Golden State Warriors (44-13) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (31-26)
When: 7:30pm PST - Wednesday, February 14th (VALENTINE’S DAY)
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
How to watch: NBCSBA, ESPN
How to listen: 95.7 The Game
Friendly Buddy’s blog: Blazer’s Edge
Warriors: Jordan Bell (out, left ankle inflammation), Patrick McCaw (questionable, wrist)
Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic (probable, back inflammation)
Nice guys always win
They say nice guys never win. Not only do I vehemently disagree with that, but I might have a small crush on the Trail Blazers — like a teenage me seeing Keira Knightly for the first time in Bend It Like Beckham sort-of crush — impressed by the class and pizzazz but fully aware Halle Berry is out there somewhere. Yeah, if you aren’t in the Valentine’s Day mood then you best stop reading now.
The Blazers are charming. I have a hunch that if my fellow GSoMers made a list of their favorite teams (other than the Dubs of course, pipe down), the Blazers would be included in many top five lists. One reason why it’s easy to crush on Portland is because Oakland-bred Damian Lillard is Portland’s star player. They also have sexy red and black uniforms and a coach who wears bow ties.
I’m not finished though. The Blazers have faced the Warriors in the past two playoffs. The Dubs have blasted Portland, going 8-1 against them. Those Dubs-Blazers series lacked animosity and failed to live up to other Portland playoff wins against more-hated Warrior nemeses like the Houston Rockets in 2014 and Los Angeles Clippers in 2016. So for that reason, Yay Area folks don’t need to hate on Portland when we’d rather see Chris Paul and James Harden slip on a hipster in Portland.
C.J. McCollum, Shabazz Napier (you got to love dudes named Shabazz, it’s too cool), Ed Davis, baby-faced Zach Collins and Lillard are all likable players. I almost forgot to mention Pat Connaughton who could have played professional baseball and gotten paid millions to sit in a bullpen for 10 years. And while Evan Turner is a disappointment, we should never let our crush’s worst flaws define them. We’ll all be rooting for Portland to beat Houston in the first round of the playoffs this year. Let your feelings start now.
Not sure on Kerr
In Monday’s destruction of the Phoenix Suns, Steve Kerr let the players coach themselves. He felt the team needed a break from his voice and wanted to remind them that they don’t need him to succeed. It’s a parent who gives off the duties to an older sibling and says, “Figure it out.”
If I were Kerr, I’d get an early start to my All-Star break, sneak into one of Portland’s fine dining establishments and uncork a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Draymond Green can send text updates on the game.
Despite the merits of dining in Portland on Valentine’s Day, it’s likely Kerr will be drawing up plays tonight. He did mention though that he’ll likely do another player-coach night this season.
Oh my, Omri
Tonight’s game is a fantastic opportunity for Omri Casspi to gain some momentum before a much-needed rest. In Monday’s player-coached game against Phoenix, Casspi scored 19 points and secured 10 rebounds. He even hit one of his two three-point attempts. Casspi had an excellent December, but a horrible case of the flu and debilitating back spasms severely limited him over the last month. Through it all, he can still be an X-factor off the bench. He’s made 10 three-pointers in 20 attempts this year. In the 2015-2016 season, he took 274 attempts. While he’s no longer on the Kings, let’s hope he starts shooting from deep again and tonight is another step for Casspi to find his way back in the rotation.
Patrick McCaw Headline
I was hoping to write about a Patrick McCaw matchup after his huge performance against the Suns and self-demoting himself to the G-League. However, he injured his wrist and it’s unlikely he’ll play tonight. Along with Casspi and Jordan Bell, McCaw can make Golden State’s title run shift from “sorta easy” to “oh, yes, we got this” if he can contribute down the stretch. It’s unlikely he’ll do much tonight given the injury, which seems minor.
I love the little things about you
Both teams can find nuggets of importance in this game. For the Warriors, continuing to play clean and focused basketball will have everyone feeling nice and tingly going into the All-Star break. For Portland, stealing a massive home win against the best team in the NBA could do wonders for their confidence in the midst of a playoff race. So nestle up with that special someone, your dog, or pint of ice cream and fall in love again with the Warriors only to have the All-Star break rip them away from you.