OAKLAND -- As the Warriors prepare for a postseason that will begin with a series against either the Trail Blazers or the Nuggets, it is apparent they have a preference.
They want Portland, and it has little to do with the Blazers or the Nuggets.
It’s about geography and, more specific, topography.
“Probably Portland, just because nobody wants to play in the mountains,” veteran guard Shaun Livingston said Saturday. “I hate playing there, man.”
Denver, on the eastern edge of the front range of the Rockies, is notorious for its mile-high altitude. It’s the ultimate test in the NBA — and the NFL -- for fitness and conditioning.
“It’s hard to breathe up there,” Livingston said. “Good city. But to play? Nah.”
Asked about Portland or Denver as a playoff opponent, veteran center Zaza Pachulia initially provided the standard reply, describing both as “good teams” and adding that the Warriors would have to be at their best to prevail.
He did not stop there.
“The playoffs are not easy at all,” Pachulia said. “I don’t care who you play against. But one thing: It’s hard to play in that altitude.”
The Warriors this season split two games at Pepsi Center in Denver, a 125-101 win on Nov. 10 and a 132-110 loss on Feb. 13. They are 2-3 in Denver since Steve Kerr took over as coach prior to the 2014-15 season.
The Warriors did, however, win their last playoff series against Denver. Entering as a No. 6 seed in 2013, they upset the third-seeded Nuggets in six games. The Warriors won one of three in Denver and took all three games at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors last season defeated the Trail Blazers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals.