November 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) dribbles against Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors Face Another Challenge in Trail Blazers: Game Preview

Following a seven-game road trip, the Golden State Warriors were probably looking forward to a stretch where they would play nine of their next 12 games at home.

But things have not gone as smoothly as planned. The Warriors have lost five of their last seven games, including three straight games at home, and are missing out on a opportune chance to build upon their record.

It won’t get any easier Sunday night, as the Warriors welcome in the Portland Trail Blazers into town, the same Trail Blazers who have surprised many with their 33-11 record.

They’re also on a tear, contrasting the Warriors’ recent struggles. Portland has won seven of its last nine games, and are coming off of a win against the Timberwolves on Saturday. The Warriors will catch a bit of break in that the Trail Blazers will be on the back end of a back-to-back, but against the likes of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State will have to bring its “A-game” if it wants to snap out of their little funk.

Tale of the Tape

Warriors

  • Points per game: 104.0 (9th)
  • Field goal percentage: 46.4% (7th)
  • 3-point percentage: 38.6% (4th)
  • Opponents’ field goal percentage: 43.7% (T-4rd)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.8 (4th)
  • Turnovers: 16.4 (29th)
  • Bench points per game: 23.0 (30th) 

Trail Blazers

  • Points per game: 109.3 (1st) 
  • Field goal percentage: 45.7% (10th)
  • 3-point percentage: 39.2% (2nd) 
  • Opponents’ field goal percentage: 45.9% (T-18th)
  • Rebounds per game: 46.5 (T-1st)
  • Turnovers: 13.2 (4th)
  • Bench points per game: 23.8 (29th) 

Defense First

As evidenced by their league-leading average of 109.3 points per game, the Trail Blazers are a prolific offensive team. LaMarcus Aldridge is having an All-Star season, averaging 24.6 points and 11.5 rebounds a contest. They also shoot the three-ball at a high rate, even better than the Warriors. Damian Lillard, who is developing into a superstar, is shooting 42.4 percent from distance this season, and ranks third in the league behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in threes made.

The Warriors will certainly have their hands full trying to contain the Blazers’ offense, considering Golden State’s recent struggles defensively. They have allowed their opponent to score over 120 points in three of their last five games, including Friday night’s matchup against the Timberwolves when they gave up 121 to Kevin Love and company.

Horrid Benches

One similarity between these two teams are that neither has much of a second unit. Much has been discussed regarding the Warriors’ futile bench, which is last in the league in scoring at 23.0 points per game. However, the Blazers aren’t any better, at 23.8 points per game. Portland uses its bench the least out of any team, playing their backups for just 13.8 minutes a game.

Thus, count on seeing the starters on the court a whole lot on Sunday night.

Bad Blood?

Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard is from Oakland, and will be playing in his hometown while wearing opposing colors. Speaking to Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge.com, Lillard smiled and said “it might be” when asked if there was bad blood with the Warriors.

Why? Because the last time these two teams met (a 113-101 victory by the Trail Blazers on Nov. 23), this happened:

LaMarcus Aldridge, who got into with Andrew Bogut in the video above, was a bit more direct:

Injury Report

GSW: Festus Ezeli (recovery from right knee surgery), Nemanja Nedovic (left hamstring strain) and Jermaine O’Neal (recovery from right wrist surgery) are out. Ognjen Kuzmic is on assignment with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League.

POR: None

Probable Starters

GOLDEN STATE (26-18)

  • F Andre Iguodala
  • F David Lee
  • C Andrew Bogut
  • G Klay Thompson
  • G Stephen Curry

PORTLAND (33-11)

  • F Nicolas Batum
  • F LaMarcus Aldridge
  • C Robin Lopez
  • G Wesley Matthews
  • G Damian Lillard

Game Info

Time: 6:00 PST

Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

TV: LOCAL

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Tags: Golden State Warriors

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