Portland faces off against Golden State in the second of three home preseason games. Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason Preview: Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) vs. Golden State Warriors (4-1)

Blazers Starting 5: PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C J.J. Hickson

Warriors Starting 5: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Harrison Barnes, PF David Lee, C Festus Ezeli

The Lowdown:

  • Golden State is the classic example of a team running on pure potential. Stephen Curry is one injury-free season away from being an All-Star, Klay Thompson was a breakout rookie and should be looking to have a big second season, David Lee think he’s better than LaMarcus Aldridge. The Warriors are the kind of team that gets a lot of hype in the off-season and will get a lot of early love. In reality though, this is a team with a lot of question marks that needs huge seasons from some classic under achievers/chronically injured players to avoid finishing near the bottom of the league.
  • Portland will probably be looking to shorten their rotation. Only three preseason games remain. Coach Terry Stotts no doubt wants to give his starters a chance to rest, but he has precious few minutes remaining to iron out the kinks before wins and losses count for real.

Portland prevailed against the Denver Nuggets, a team that will end up with a much better win loss percentage than the Blazers by the end of the season, mostly because Denver played deep rotation guys most of the night.

Golden State doesn’t have the depth of Denver, so Friday night probably won’t be a match-up between two teams of players 10-15 on each roster. That doesn’t mean it won’t be ugly. Trust me, there’s a good chance this thing will turn to straight slop before the end of the first quarter. If it stays sloppy, Portland has the edge. If the Warriors wing players get hot, the Blazers likely won’t be able to keep up.

Key Match-ups:

  • Damian Lillard vs. Stephen Curry: Damian will be making his home debut on Friday, and taking on Steph Curry is a great place to start his RG career. A healthy Steph Curry is the kind of player Lillard should try to be. Steph is a dynamic scorer at the PG spot who can also influence the outcome of a game with his game management skills. Personally, I would like to see Lillard make Curry work on defense by taking him into the post and running him around a bit off the ball. Lillard won’t have a size advantage on many NBA guards so he needs to take advantage of the times he’s bigger than his counter part.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge vs. David Lee: Lee has called out LaMarcus (sort of) already. It’s on LA to prove he’s better than Lee by taking it to him in his own house. Wednesday night Aldridge and J.J. Hickson stayed out of the paint almost entirely. If LA can attack David Lee inside, he should be able to pull off a big night offensively.
  • Portland’s Shooters vs. Golden State’s Shooters: Wesley Matthews had a big shooting night against Denver. Nicolas Batum was absolutely awful. Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, and Stephen Curry are going to shoot a lot. Whichever team’s wings get going first will probably win.

Fun Facts

  • Late last season, some dude named Charles Jenkins from Hofstra lit up Portland in the Rose Garden. That same Charles Jenkins remains on Golden State’s roster as of Friday night. Let’s see if he gets in? Preseason games don’t count, but not in the way that regular season games for losing teams at the end of the year don’t count.
  • Golden State’s best Blazer killer, Monta Ellis is no longer on Golden State’s roster. Portland has struggled against the Warriors in the recent past. Mostly because of Ellis. Let’s see how different this team looks without him.

@mikeacker | @ripcityproject | [email protected]

 

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