Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers
Time: 9 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: GSW -9.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors kept winning with Stephen Curry on the shelf, but the league MVP will return donning shin guards in an attempt to help the Dubs extend its four-game win streak. The Warriors travel north to Portland to face the Trail Blazers as 9.5 point favorites according to NBA oddsmakers.
Key in winning the quartet of games without Curry was the play of Klay Thompson. The Warriors 2-guard averaged 33 points per game over the last four contests and he had 36 in the most recent 109-88 victory over the Lakers.
Thompson hit six threes in three of those five games, and showed that he can carry this team when Curry does need to miss time. He shot 50 of 99 from the floor over those four wins while also attempting four free throws per game. Thompson has the makings of being a number one option in his own right, and the fact that he flanks Curry is what makes the “Splash Brothers” one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
The Warriors get Curry and his 29.3 points per game back in the lineup tonight, and Curry resumes his quest of besting his own 272 made threes last season. This year Curry is hitting 4.5 made threes per game while shooting them at a 44.5 percent clip.
Thompson shoots 43.3 percent from three and knocks down 3.3 per game in his own right, a pace which keeps close to what Curry did last year in a record-setting year.
How good are the Warriors?
Because it is not just all about Curry and Thompson. Draymond Green is playing at a first team All-NBA level with eight triple-doubles on the season, including three straight. Green leads the team in minutes at 35 per game, while averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game. He makes defensive plays too: Green averages 2.74 blocks/steals per game while playing superb on-ball defense, too.
Green’s brilliance, as much as Thompson’s, is why the Warriors were able to hold the wheels on and ride to 33-2 while Curry recovered.
Throwing into the mix some strong defensive players like Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes, and the table is well set. Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut are a good two headed monster at center, though Ezeli is questionable with a lingering toe injury.
The Blazers dropped its past two games to the Memphis Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers by an average of 12.5 points. Most recent was the 109-98 loss to the Clippers. The Blazers were without high scoring two-guard CJ McCollum, and Damian Lillard looked overwhelmed trying to do it all. Lillard was just 7 of 25 from the field and tallied 20 points in a forgettable game for the Blazers.
McCollum is expected to play this game, and the Blazers will need him to. McCollum averages 21 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, as instrumental as Lillard in many senses. Lillard is posting 24.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
Swingman Allen Crabbe is a valuable tool for the Blazers this year too, with the third-highest per game average of 11.1 points per game. Al-Farouq Aminu is becoming a good three-and-D specialist. The Blazers most hurt defensively in its frontcourt, though both Mason Plumlee and Meyers Leonard are effective scorers and rebounders.
The Blazers are in a nice place after losing four of five starters. The team is 15-23 and exhibiting enough cohesion that it could be believed with some key additions this team could be playoff worthy. It certainly is the rough outline of only a good lottery team right now, but the backcourt alone should entice some other free agents to consider heading to Oregon.