The Blazers travel south to the Bay Area this evening to dance with the Warriors. The teams have met justonce this season, a 103-97 victory for the Dubs back in January. It was a rather unusual game - together, Damian Lillard and Nic Batum scored 53 of Portland’s 97 points, on 20-36 shooting. Blazers not named Lillard and Batum, however, combined to shoot just 15-56 (26.7%) from the floor and just 5-24 (20.8%) from three.
While the Warriors currently sit in the No. 6 seed in the West, nine games above .500, their record may be a bit misleading - they’ve only outscored their opponents by a total of 23 points over the course of the season. That would suggest that Golden State is an average team - a suggestion that is reinforced by other numbers; the Warriors rank 13th in offensive efficiency and 15th in defensive efficiency.
The game will be won or lost on the Warriors’ three-point line. Golden State leads the league in three-point accuracy, shooting just a hair under 40 percent (39.9%). Meanwhile, the Blazers are among the league’s best in defending the long ball - opponents shoot just 33.6 percent against them, the third-best mark in the league.
The Warriors create a lot of their three-point looks in transition - players like Klay Thompson will run to the long range stripe instead of the rim on fast breaks, and Stephen Curry will set up drag-screens before the defense is set and step straight to the arc for a pull-up. It’s an unconventional philosophy that even the most prepared teams can be caught off-guard by if their focus lapses.
Defensively, Golden State generally does a good job forcing low-efficiency shots, surrendering just a 48.4 effective field goal percentage (eighth-best in the league), and they clean up their defensive glass - they grab 74.9 percent of available defensive rebounds, tied for second-highest. Their problems defensively come in other areas; they don’t force turnovers and their foul rate is a touch high. While neither of those areas are ones that the Blazers are particularly adept at exploiting, it still presents opportunity.