OAKLAND – The Warriors return home for their final tune-up Friday night, when they face the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.
With opening night set for next Tuesday at Oracle, the Warriors will try to close out the preseason with six consecutive victories. Their only loss was delivered by Toronto in the Oct. 1 opener at Vancouver.
The game marks the return to Oakland of Blazers star guard Damian Lillard, and also the return to Oracle of ex-Warriors center Festus Ezeli, who signed with Portland in the offseason. Ezeli, however, is recovering from knee surgery and is expected to sit.
The Warriors are coming off a 123-112 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday in San Diego, while the Blazers (4-2) dispatched Utah 88-84 on that same night in Salt Lake City.
The teams engaged in a spirited battle last May during the Western Conference Semifinals before the Warriors prevailed in five games.
Warriors by 9.5
Warriors: F Kevin Durant, F Draymond Green, C Zaza Pachulia, G Klay Thompson, G Stephen Curry.
Trail Blazers: F Maurice Harkless, F Al-Farouq Aminu, C Mason Plumlee, G C.J. McCollum, G Damian Lillard.
Warriors: C JaVale McGee (L knee strain) is listed as questionable. C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery) is listed as out.
Blazers: C Meyers Leonard (lower back soreness) and G Shabazz Napier (L ankle sprain) are listed as questionable. C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) is listed as out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr experimented with playing rotations as recently as Wednesday night. With this being the preseason finale, we should get a much better feel for how the coach will stagger starters with reserves. Will he again try to run five reserves at once in the first half?
- The 3-point shots are going to fly. Always do with these teams, but now even more than before, as the addition of Durant gives the Warriors three extraordinary long-range shooters in the starting lineup and a fourth, Green, who is better than average. The Warriors will try to stretch the Portland defense to the breaking point.
- Curry and Lillard seek to bring out the best in each other, and sometimes that’s exactly what happens. But it was McCollum, who in August responded to a fan asking if Curry could guard him, by answering, “Nope.” Will it matter that this is a preseason game?