Game Details: Rose Garden, Portland, OR. 7:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM).
Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6’3″, Utah), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5″, Marquette), SF Gerald Wallace (#3, 6’7″, Alabama), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11″, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6’11″, UMass)
Projected Golden State Starting Lineup: PG Stephen Curry (#30, 6’3″, Davidson), SG Monta Ellis (#8, 6’3″, Lanier High School), SF Dorell Wright (#1, 6’9″, South Kent Prep), PF David Lee (#10, 6’9″m Florida), C Ekpe Udoh (#20, 6’10”, Baylor)
On paper, the Warriors should be the team remaining in the Blazers’ schedule that would be the easiest to beat. However, as every Blazers fan knows, Golden State has given this team its share of trouble in recent years, even beating them in Oakland this Christmas. They have been in something of a dry spell for the last few weeks, but they just beat the very same Dallas Mavericks that the Blazers did, and they’ll be fired up to close out their season on a good note. The Blazers, on the other hand, will clinch a playoff berth with a victory tonight.
This game will be the first time Gerald Wallace faces the Warriors in a Blazers uniform, and his defense and versatility will come in handy tonight. We’ve seen his toughness and willingness to draw charges, and we could see that put to good use tonight against speedy guards Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. The Warriors, particularly those two, score a lot, but they play virtually no defense. David Lee is a solid inside presence, but at this point there aren’t a lot of people who wouldn’t argue that LaMarcus Aldridge has surpassed him. Having Marcus Camby in the lineup will also give the Warriors problems in the paint. They’re still a threat from deep (how stupid does Miami look for letting sharpshooter Dorell Wright walk for a fraction of what they paid Mike Miller?), but the Blazers have perimeter defenders too in Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews.
The new, more defensive-minded Blazers should be better-equipped to beat the Warriors than they have been in the past, but they can’t relax in the slightest. The count of games left on the schedule is down to five. Every one counts.