Game Details: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA. 7:30 PM. TV: ESPN/KGW. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM)
Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6′2″, Utah), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6′5″, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum(#88, 6′9″, France), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6′11″, Texas), C Dante Cunningham (#33, 6′8″, Villanova)
Projected Golden State Starting Lineup: PG Monta Ellis (#8, 6′3″, Lanier High School), SG Reggie Williams (#55, 6′6″, Virginia Military Institute), SF Dorell Wright (#1, 6′9″, South Kent Prep), PF David Lee (#10, 6′9″, Florida), C Dan Gadzuric (#50, 6′11″, UCLA)
I’ll keep this brief because we all have better things to do today than read a preview of this game. Christmas Day games are traditionally reserved for big-name matchups with playoff implications. Looking at the other four games being played today (Knicks-Bulls, Celtics-Magic, Nuggets-Thunder, and possibly the most hotly anticipated game of the year, Heat-Lakers), this matchup between the Blazers and Warriors sticks out like a sore thumb. I guess the schedule-makers thought “The Warriors have David Lee now!!!” was enough of a draw to justify it, and the Blazers were supposed to make the leap from promising young team to contender. Or something. Either way, this will be a game between two injury-plagued teams, one with a better chance of making the playoffs than the other but neither with any real hope of contending for a title this year. And if it’s anything like the game between these two teams a week ago, it will depend on which team plays better top to bottom.
The good news for the Blazers is that they won’t be quite as shorthanded as they were the last time–they’re still short Brandon Roy and Joel Przybilla, and as of this writing Marcus Camby is still questionable, but Nicolas Batum is back in the starting lineup, which will give the Blazers another defensive weapon against the high-scoring Warriors. Stephen Curry hasn’t been ruled out to return to action today, but it’s not a sure thing. If Curry doesn’t play, the Blazers’ chances fall once again on their ability to contain Monta Ellis, who has enjoyed a couple of monster games in the week since he last faced Portland. If Curry does suit up, that’s two explosive scoring threats the Blazers have to plan for. The rest of the team matches up pretty favorably with Golden State, especially if LaMarcus Aldridge can continue his high level of play in recent days. If the Blazers don’t turn the ball over, control the glass, and get solid contributions from Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and Wesley Matthews, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take this one.