The Warriors are the last of the 30 NBA teams to play at home this season, but the reward for opening with four road games is getting the next seven at Chase Center.
Reward might not be the best description of what awaits the Warriors, beginning Friday night with a two-game set against the reconstituted Portland Trail Blazers.
The Warriors (2-2) are underdogs against the 2-2 Blazers, and they should get used to it. Six of the seven home games are against teams that were in the 2020 playoffs.
The upside for the Warriors is that Draymond Green, who missed the first four games with soreness in his right foot, is expected to make his debut against Portland. Fellow power forward Eric Paschall, however, is questionable with soreness in his right knee.
Here are three keys to victory for the Warriors.
Win the backcourt
This is a guard-lover's delight: Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr. vs. Portland’s Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Through four games, Lillard and McCollum have been the most effective scoring backcourt duo in the league, combining to average 51.0 points per game. McCollum is off to a terrific start, ranking sixth among scorers at 28.0 points per game and shooting 47.8 percent from deep.
Neither, though, is a historically effective defender. That’s where Curry (26.5 points per game this season) can make an impact. He’ll get opportunities.
It will be interesting to see which of the Portland guards Warriors coach Steve Kerr assigns to Oubre, the team’s most consistent defender. He relishes facing elite guards. Expect him to get matchup time against both Lillard and McCollum.
Draymond makes an impact
He has not played since last Feb. 29, and he has not played a truly meaningful game since the 2019 NBA Finals. So, he’s going to be rusty.
Green, however, is one of those rare players who can be individually average yet simultaneously makes his teammates better.
Here’s what the Warriors need most: 1) Defensive coordination, and Draymond is a master at this; 2) Offensive execution, and he has been the foremost factor here for six years; and 3) Rebounding, as he’s good enough to start digging the Warriors out of last place in the NBA in rebound differential.
It’s asking a lot, but any amount he can delivers will make a difference.
Dictate the pace
The Warriors have stated a desire to play fast, and they lead the league in pace. The Blazers rank 27th. This smells like an opportunity.
Portland is second in 3-point shot attempts and 29th in offensive rebounding -- even with Enes Kanter, who thrives on them. With decent defense, the Blazers' misses will provide numerous grab-and-go opportunities.
Take every one of them. Transition defense has been a Portland weakness forever. Or so it seems. Robert Covington will help in this regard, but the Warriors have more overall team speed. Oubre is the fastest perimeter player on the floor tonight and James Wiseman will be the fastest big man on the floor on most nights.
The team that dictates the pace almost certainly will win this game.