Wednesday is Portland’s final game of the season. It’s also their final home game of the season, meaning it’s also Fan Appreciation Night. That’s a good thing. Fans certainly need to be appreciated for this season. They also need to realize that appreciating this team for just showing up ends after tonight.
And because the Blazers’ next season won’t have the limited expectations of this season, I say that we try as hard as we can to both enjoy Wednesday’s game and then immediately start ignoring it when things start to go wrong. And trust me, things will start going wrong.
Portland hasn’t been in a game in a month, Golden State is still playing for playoff seeding, and outside of maybe LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers won’t be getting any help from the starters they’ve already shut down for the season. The Warriors are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs; the Blazers have, to quote Charles Barkley, “packed their bags for vacation.” There’s a very good chance this game won’t be close.
Because of that, I’m going to keep this preview short.
Blazers Starting 5: PG Damian Lillard, SG Will Barton, SF Victor Claver, PF J.J. Hickson, C Meyers Leonard
Warriors Starting 5: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Harrison Barnes, PF David Lee, C Festus Ezeli
What to Watch For
- Can Portland shoot well without this game turning into a shoot-out. Steph Curry is going to be shooting for the single-season record for three-pointers made. Damian Lillardis going to be shooting to extend his rookie record and franchise record for three pointers made. Straight up, Lillard versus Curry favors Curry, but probably not by all that much (or at least less than Curry versus some other not so dead-eye shooters). However, Steph isn’t the only shooter on Golden State’s roster, and Dame is the only one left on Portland’s. Klay Thompson can light it up from deep, Harrison Barnes has range, Jarrett Jack can knock down a deep one or two. Long story short, the Blazers need to shoot, but they also need to avoid turning this game into a three-point shooting contest. That’s something Portland won’t win.
- Interior defense and defensive rebounding. The Blazers are going to give up a ton of points in the paint. Their objective should maybe be to give up only half a ton of points inside. To do that, they should focus pretty heavily on defensive rebounding.
- Will the fans be into it. All things considered, 2012-13 has been a pretty remarkable season. After having to endure last season’s team of guys who could have cared less about the Blazers and gave up 20 games into the campaign, it was refreshing to see the 12-13 Blazers come out and compete every night. Thirteen loses in a row are a bit of a downer, but Damian Lillard has been fantastic while making up for nearly a decade of futility at the point guard position, LaMarcus Aldridge has emerged as a totally legit All-Star, and the Blazers core four have proven to be at or near the top of best performing units in the league. Everything that has happened this season is a prelude to what this team can be given the right set of off-season circumstances. Hopefully Portland fans will make it out for this last game of the season, celebrating the good that did happen in 2012-13 while also preparing for what will hopefully be a bright and fruitful future.