I will use any excuse to use that video clip on this blog. Tonight, Portland returns to the road facing off against the Golden State Warriors. This is the beginning of a quick back-to-back trip in California, concluding tomorrow in Sacramento. Tonight marks the Blazers, 4th appearance in a Thursday night TNT game, their first on the road. They have gone 2-1 on the season. Random stat right? Well I was trying to distract myself from the fact that the Blazers have indeed lost 9 straight in the Oracle Arena. That dates back all the way to 2004. I was hoping they hadn’t won in Oakland since the Chris Mills “Seriously, Bonzi Wells, I’m gonna shoot you in the face” incident but alas all the stars can’t line up for me. The last Blazer victory in Oakland came on November 3rd, 2004 when Nick Van Exel decided to think about earning his $11 million dollars that year by dropping 20 points in 23 minutes, leading Portland to a 78-75 victory. The best part about that game is Golden State’s bench, check this out: Derek Fisher, Clifford Robinson, Calbert Cheaney, Eduardo Najera and Dale Davis. I kid you not. I had forgotten that some of these guys were Warriors once upon a time…but oh my goodness they were Warriors AT THE SAME TIME?!?! Mindblowing stuff.
(Sidenote, those 5 as a bench reminds me of how in like NBA Live 03 or 04, the computer would just make completely ridiculous and random trades/signings and by year 3 or 4 of your dynasty the whole league was completely out of wack and unrealistic. This never happened in NBA Live 97. Ever.)
The Warriors may have the black cloud of that 9-game winning streak to hang over the Blazers, but they don’t have much else. You want to talk about a fall from grace? Golden State has lost 22 of their last 27 games. They have never won more than 2 games in a row this season. They are coming off a five-game road trip where they a) didn’t win and b) gave up 118 points a game. I mean giving up 127 to Atlanta and 117 to Orlando is one thing…but letting Miami score 110 points and Charlotte drop 101 on you? Unacceptable. Speaking of the season, it has been a complete mess. You know your team is an absolute mess when the only concern people have with you is for fantasy basketball purposes. And I know I’m geeking myself up with the NBA Live and fantasy basketball references, but seriously. I’ve added and dropped Anthony Morrow about 100 times and I know there has been all sorts of frustrations surrounding Maggette, Biedrins, etc. It’s sad to think that I once proudly called this team to upset the Mavericks, and the resurgence of the Warriors and the joy that brought has come down to this.
There are positives. Namely, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry off the bat. I’ll start with Curry because, lets’ be honest…how can you not love the kid’s game. The one good thing about this mess that Golden State has become is that Stephen Curry has gotten carte-blanche to be Stephen Curry. I’m glad he’s got that super, duper, Incredible Hulk-like, green light. The second half of the season has seen Curry light it up to the point of entering the Rookie of the Year debate. Tyreke Evans has it on lock due to the fact that he has been consistently beasting all year, but Curry deserves to be in the conversation. I mean for the month of February, Curry averaged 21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, shot 47% while playing with an assortment of D-Leaguers and guys who stopped caring months ago. Beautiful if you ask me. Monta Ellis may or may not play, I haven’t checked twitter in a second so I’m not sure yet…if he does…he’s going to score. In the 52 games Ellis has appeared in, he’s only been held to single digits four times. I mean between those two they light it up more than people at a rap concert.
After that…things fall off a cliff. Anthony Morrow can shoot the you-know-what out of the three pointer (45%) and shoots them often (4.7 attempts a game) so finding him is important. CJ Watson is really good when Monta Ellis doesn’t play and then goes back to being CJ Watson….which I guess makes him Spiderman-esque? After that is a collection of D-Leaguers and the Immortal Devean George. Yes, just like the WWF started calling Hulk Hogan the Immortal Hulk Hogan, I will give it to Devean George. He won’t…stop….stealing…money.
This is not going to be an easy game. Throw the records out of the books people, Golden State’s style of play messes with the Blazers. You would hope for a big performance from LaMarcus Aldridge considering their inside depth is nothing, but we’ll see. Brandon Roy should have fun with guards who are allergic to defense. If Portland can slide their feet, rotate , play with energy and take care of the ball things should work out well over the course of 48 minutes. But we have seen weird things happen to the Blazers in Oakland, namely the opposite of everything I said in the prior sentence. They are going to attack and if the Blazers aren’t ready it could be a long night. And you know Barkley is just waiting for an excuse to attack Portland for whatever reason. Remember, this Golden State team dropped 41 points in the first quarter in January at the Rose Garden. If Portland is turning it over or is passive on offense (aka a ton of jumpshots) and lets Golden State get out in transition….yowza. All of that being said, I can’t approve losing to a 17-win team that gives up 111 points a game and relies on multiple D-Leaguers to make themselves work. I’m just saying.