Preview: Golden State At Portland
When: 10:00 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon
The Golden State Warriors are largely staying away from the trade rumor circuit this week with no obvious holes to fill on the roster. The Warriors are off to the best 52-game start in NBA history and will begin their chase of the 72-win Chicago Bulls from 1995-96 in earnest when they return from the All-Star break to visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
Warriors stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson did not shy away from talk of chasing that record when interviewed repeatedly during the All-Star festivities in Toronto, and Golden State would need to go 25-5 over its last 30 games to reach 73 victories. “Just to be in the conversation of ‘You guys can do it’ is crazy. It’s great,” Thompson told ESPN radio over the weekend. “I would have never imagined this. Growing up, I always thought that record was untouchable. Obviously we’re playing for more than just 73 wins – we’re playing for a championship – but if it’s right there for us, we might as well try and take it.” The Trail Blazers are just trying to take a playoff spot in the Western Conference and won eight of nine heading into the break to reach .500. Point guard Damian Lillard, who missed out on an All-Star bid despite his 24.3 points and 7.3 assists, put up a season-high 40 points in a 128-108 home loss to the Warriors on Jan. 8.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), CSN Northwest (Portland)
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (48-4): Golden State cruised into the All-Star break with wins in 11 straight and kicked off a seven-game road trip with a 112-104 victory at Phoenix in the final game prior to the week off. The Warriors averaged 121.4 points in those 11 wins and will play 17 of their final 24 games at home – where they have yet to lose – after finishing up the current road trip. “They’re respecting the game, respecting the process, working hard in practice, sharing the ball and the egos are not getting out of hand,” general manager Bob Myers told CSNBayArea of his team.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (27-27): Portland was predicted to miss the playoffs after replacing four starters and began the season 11-20 before turning things around. “We’ve grown immensely, that’s been the key to our team,” guard C.J. McCollum told reporters before the break. “Our bench has played extremely well. Guys are kinda settling into roles and being aggressive and helping us contribute each and every single night. It’s a team game. When we get four, five, six guys in double figures, it makes the game so much easier for everybody.” McCollum’s improvement has been the biggest surprise, and the third-year guard is averaging 20.7 points while starting alongside Lillard in the backcourt.
1. Thompson beat out Curry and McCollum to win the 3-point shootout during All-Star weekend.
2. The Trail Blazers were involved in a pair of minor moves on Thursday that netted PG Brian Roberts from Miami, a conditional first-round draft pick from Cleveland and veteran C Anderson Varejao, who is expected to be waived.
3. Golden State has taken four straight and six of the last seven in the series.
PREDICTION: Warriors 116, Trail Blazers 105