Warriors @ Blazers – What we should strive for
The Warriors are coming off one of their better wins of the season as they go in to Portland tonight. The 99-92 win over Dallas on Saturday was one of the Warriors better defensive showings, even if it seems that Dallas missed every open shot they had in the second half. What was impressive in that game, even as the Warriors let Dallas shoot from 3-point range, was how well they prevented the Mavericks from getting easy points inside. Not only was Dallas forced to miss a lot of contested shots at the rim, but they also struggled to get to the free-throw line. It’s not often that the Warriors out-shoot their opponent from the charity stripe, as they are both worst in the league in free throws attempted and in free throw differential (only the Jazz allow more free throws).
So that the Warriors played good interior defense and didn’t foul a lot is unusual, but definitely something to strive for. So, even if we fans shouldn’t expect a win, I think we can at least hope that our guys are trying to repeat the type of defense they played against the Mavericks. Especially considering Portland isn’t a good 3-point shooting team, it would make sense to try to force them into jumpers rather than relinquishing the paint. It’s without question that defending the rim is the first step towards becoming a better defensive team. The Warriors have long been the type of defensive team that relied on disruption on the perimeter, forcing turnovers and steals because our interior and penetration defense were sub-par. But with Udoh now starting every game, and with the way that Thornton and Amundson played defense of the bench last game, I don’t think it’s out of the question that our post defense should see a serious improvement.
So the goal for this game is to prevent easy points inside and to keep Portland off the free-throw line. Portland is good at neither, so it’s a relatively possible task to complete. Considering our offense is pretty much hit-or-miss, especially on the road (Monta, I’m looking at you), so I’m not really sure what we can expect from them. The best way to ensure a shot at winning is to maintain the type of defense we showed we’re capable of on Saturday night. Even if we allow some long open jumpers, it’s much better for us if we prevent scoring in the paint.
Prediction: Blazers win by 3. They’re the better team and our offense struggles for most of the game as Portland dictates the game with their slow pace. Our defense performs fine, but Warriors shoot too many difficult jumpers.