The Golden State Warriors just had a rarity: two straight off days, which allowed the team a chance to practice.
Now they’re back in action for the front half of a back-to-back before waltzing into the All-Star break.
Who: Golden State Warriors (19-16) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (19-14)
When: 7:00 p.m. PT
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Blazers: Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, Enes Kanter
Warriors: Lost to the Lakers 117-91 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Blazers: Beat the Hornets 123-111 — 1-4 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass)
Warriors: 110.0 offense (22nd), 110.5 defense (7th), -0.4 net (17th)
Blazers: 117.1 offense (6th), 117.0 defense (28th), 0.0 net (13th)
The Warriors have two games left before the All-Star break. They won’t be easy. They’re back-to-backs, on the road, against two teams ahead of them in the standings.
Golden State will enter the break at 21-16, 20-17, or 19-18. Somehow, those three records look dramatically different. And with an utterly brutal start to the second half of the season — a trip to the Los Angeles Clippers, followed by a home stand against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers — the record after Thursday matters double.
Portland has been an up-and-down team ever since CJ McCollum went down with an injury. Their win on Monday broke a four-game losing streak, but that streak immediately followed a six-game winning streak. For all of Portland’s wonders, they boast one of the league’s worst defenses, and it’s a prime opportunity for Golden State’s tepid offense to break out a bit.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Kelly Oubre Jr.
After a disastrous start to his Dubs tenure, Oubre broke out in February. The shooting guard averaged 20.1 points per game for the month, shot 43.0% from the field, and had a 60.4% true-shooting percentage, all while playing tenacious defense.
Against Portland’s poor defensive backcourt, he has a chance to feast. But he’ll have to work on the defensive end, as he’ll likely be tasked with defending Damian Lillard.
Blazer to watch: Enes Kanter.
Kanter has had to take on a bigger role with Jusuf Nurkić’s injury, and he’s shined, averaging 11.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He’s an offensive player capable of scoring on anyone, at any time, and a defensive player capable of being scored on by anyone, at any time.
The Warriors need to make sure that equation is tilted in their favor.
Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Damian Lillard.
Even though Curry and Lillard won’t spend too much time defending each other, it’s always a joy when these two players — the two best point guards in the NBA right now — get to square off.
Stephen Curry on facing Damian Lillard: "It's always a good vibe when you go against someone who plays at that level."— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) March 2, 2021
Keep your eye on these two the moment the ball crosses half court.
Keys to victory
- Find early offensive rhythm against a poor defensive team
- Don’t let Enes Kanter feast at the rim or on the boards
- Keep Carmelo Anthony from having a strong game off the bench
- Get solid contributions from the wings
Back in the win column, Dubs.