Warriors

NBA Gameday: Warriors five-point favorites at Blazers

NBA Gameday: Warriors five-point favorites at Blazers

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers coverage starts today at 6pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

PORTLAND – The Warriors on Tuesday night return to Moda Center, where last February they absorbed the most humiliating defeat of their record 73-win season.

The worst of their nine regular-season losses came in Portland, a 137-105 rout in which Damian Lillard scored a career-high 51 points and the Warriors seemed utterly overmatched.

Though the Warriors got plenty of retribution in the postseason, ousting the Blazers, a 32-point loss in their last regular-season visit surely will be in the backs of their minds. They have full awareness of the heights the Blazers can reach if they find a rhythm.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson/Steph Curry vs. Damian Lillard: Lillard’s edge seems to be getting even sharper. He seems to be waging a campaign against defenders, averaging 35 points through the first three games. Thompson and Curry realize the most direct path to winning in Portland is stopping Lillard.

INJURY LIST

Warriors: G Pat McCaw (L ankle sprain) and C Damian Jones (R pectoral recovery) are listed as out.

Blazers: C Festus Ezeli (L knee recovery) is listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors last season won three of four, and then four of five in the Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors have won 11 of the last 14 regular-season meetings overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1) Thompson -- One of the league’s best 3-point shooters, Thompson was terrific in the preseason but has gotten off to a slow start. He’s shooting 14.3 percent from beyond the arc, which means it’s a matter of time before somebody pays. Will it be Portland, the area in which he spent most of his childhood years?

2) Lillard -- The Oakland native is Portland’s catalyst, and he tends to summon a little something extra at the sight of the Warriors. His teammates feed off his offense, and right now he’s in The Zone.

3) The Crowd -- The Blazers have one of the loudest arenas in the league, as local fans bring an energy that seems to lift the team. The Warriors delight in silencing road arenas, and this is one they definitely want to keep quiet.
 

Jalen Rose: Draymond Green 'scapegoat' if Kevin Durant leaves Warriors

Jalen Rose: Draymond Green 'scapegoat' if Kevin Durant leaves Warriors

If Kevin Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency next summer, fans will need someone to blame.

ESPN's Jalen Rose — a former NBA player himself — knows exactly who will take the fall for Durant walking away.

Draymond Green.

"There are certain things you can say to me in a disagreement and our relationship will never be the same," Rose said Monday morning on ESPN's Get Up! "That's what happened with Draymond and KD.

“This will be their final season playing together in Golden State. A lot of people speculated already that KD would be leaving. Unfortunately now for Draymond, he'll be the scapegoat to a lot of fans, to a lot of members of the media, but I don't think that's going to deter them from their ultimate goal of winning a third straight championship."

Green and Durant got into a heated exchange at the end of regulation last Monday in Los Angeles. Green was suspended for his involvement in the incident, and things appeared to blow over last Thursday when the two players were seen walking into the Toyota Center in Houston together.

But the Warriors have lost three consecutive games and haven't looked like the joyful bunch that has won three of the last four NBA titles.

Four specific steps to fix the struggling 12-6 Warriors

Four specific steps to fix the struggling 12-6 Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- Losers of three consecutive games, the Warriors would like to think they have bottomed out, that returning to the warm bosom of Oracle Arena will be the panacea for all that has ailed them over the past eight days.

Coming home might make a difference, but they still have to play the games.

Here are four specific ways the Warriors can dig out of a place they’ve never under coach Steve Kerr:

STEP ONE

Fix Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant not only is missing shots, he’s missing presence. He’s playing as if his mind is elsewhere, particularly on defense, where his indifferent closeouts indicate disengagement.

His offensive numbers over five games last week were poor by any standard but downright atrocious for his own. His field-goal percentage was 39.6, nearly 10 points below his career percentage. His 3-point shooting percentage was 14.3, a full 24 points below his career percentage.

He’s shooting 92.5 percent from the free-throw line, the one place where he looks like KD.

When fully engaged and enthusiastic, Durant is one of the NBA’s most ferocious weapons. When he’s not fully invested, he looks like this.

Durant has carried teams before, and he likely will do it again. The Warriors must find a way to unlock that dude. Nothing has worked so far. Time to call a psychologist?

STEP TWO

Insert Cook as starting point guard

There might not be a guard in the NBA that Quinn Cook is able to lock down. Defense is not his thing and never will be his thing.

He earned a Warriors contract because he can shoot. And with Klay Thompson and Durant struggling to score, especially from beyond the arc, Cook is the man best suited to fill this gaping void.

Cook is shooting 52.6 percent from the field, 48 percent beyond the arc. He has been the most accurate deep shooter on the team not named Stephen Curry.

Cook started the first three games after Curry went down with a groin injury, with the Warriors going 2-1. With Kerr wanting a defensive presence, Andre Iguodala was inserted as starter for the last three, with the Warriors going 0-3.

It’s not Iguodala’s fault. He’s doing what he does -- but not what Cook does. The Warriors are 2-4 since Curry went down with a groin injury, the victories coming in the only two games in which Cook played at least 30 minutes.

STEP THREE

Run some pick and roll

With Curry out, the floor shrinks on the offensive end. Even though the insertion of Jonas Jerebko into the starting lineup at power forward helps stretch the floor, Durant and Thompson aren’t getting anything close to their usual space.

Why not turn to pick-and-roll action featuring Durant and Cook? Or Cook and Damian Jones, whose shooting is iffy but his diving toward the rim is fantastic?

There are a few other combinations that have potential, and most them involve Durant. He likes pick-and-roll because it’s effective and he loves to make a defender look bad.

Kerr, of course, is not a fan of pick-and-roll as a staple. He feels it turns too many of his offensive weapons into spectators. He’s not wrong. But it’s a wrinkle that has worked in the past.

Durant has said that Curry is the Warriors’ system. Put another way, the Warriors can’t run their stuff nearly as well without him. So why not offer a different look?

STEP FOUR

Get Curry healthy

There is a belief among some within the organization that the Warriors won’t get their identity back until Curry returns. There is some truth to that.

One of the reasons Thompson has had such a wonderful career is that he plays alongside Curry. Curry on the court is its own gravitational pull. Opposing defenders have a way of falling toward him on every play.

This one is not an immediate fix; the Warriors have not issued a timeline for Curry’s return. But his return, whenever it is -- maybe sometime within the next 10 days -- will automatically unleash the best of the offense.

If Durant still can’t get himself going, the problem is even deeper than it appears.