Warriors

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Trail Blazers in 2019-20

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Trail Blazers in 2019-20

For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors find themselves in new territory entering the 2019-20 season. With Kevin Durant gone to the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL and eight new players on the roster, the Warriors are not the preseason NBA title favorites. 

As the Warriors reconcile a new reality, the rest of the Western Conference has retooled with superstar talent. Over the next seven days, NBC Sports Bay Area will examine teams that are expected to challenge Golden State's Western Conference throne.

Friday's edition: The Portland Trail Blazers

Off-season transactions 

After reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Blazers had a busy summer, adding seven new players to the roster. The biggest move came when the team brought in Hassan Whiteside, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Heat that sent Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard out of town. 

Whiteside -- who has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the league -- often drew the ire of his Heat teammates for his inconsistency.  But at his best, the eighth-year center is a consistent double-double threat who can protect the rim with his athleticism. With injured center Jusuf Nurkic out for the beginning of the season while recovering from a brutal leg fracture, the Blazers hope Whiteside can fill the void. 

As for the rest of the roster, Portland general manager Neil Olshey traded forward Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore. Forward Rodney Hood -- after an impressive postseason performance -- re-signed with the team, while the Blazers took a flier on 39-year-old Pau Gasol. 

However, Portland's biggest transaction was reserved for Oakland native Damian Lillard, who signed a four year, $196 million supermax contract. 

Strengths

With Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the league. The two combined to average 46.8 points per game last year. 

Behind the duo's output, the Blazers were one of the best offensive units in the league, averaging 114.7 points per game, sixth-best in the league, while posting a 113.7 offensive rating. 

Weaknesses

Portland had one of the worst benches in the league last season, averaging just 18.7 points per game. That number doesn't seem to be going up unless the team can get contributions from Hood, 20-year old Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. 

The Blazers -- who were 16th in 3-point shooting last year -- will have to overcome the loss of sharpshooter Seth Curry, who signed with the Mavericks in July. Offseason signings of Anthony Tolliver and Kent Bazemore could ease the pain.  

How the Warriors stack up

With just one true center on the roster, the Warriors could struggle with Portland's frontline. However, the Warriors have owned Portland over the last five years. Since 2012, the Warriors own an 18-7 record against the Trail Blazers, including an 8-1 mark in the postseason. 

[RELATED: Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against the Spurs in 2019-20]

Last season, Stephen Curry averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in a postseason sweep over the Blazers, while Draymond Green averaged a near triple-double. 

Portland has a roster that can push the new-look Warriors in the regular season as the team finds itself, but it's hard betting against Golden State in a potential postseason matchup. 

NBA rumors: League 'angling' to cancel rest of season amid coronavirus

NBA rumors: League 'angling' to cancel rest of season amid coronavirus

As the sports world remains frozen due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA reportedly isn't optimistic it will be able to restart and finish its season.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst went on "SportsCenter" on Friday and gave an update on the league's current line of thinking and the realistic possibility that basketball won't return until next season.

"It's been a bad week," Windhorst said in regards to the feeling the season might not be salvageable. "I think there was optimism about progress a week ago, and some things that have happened this week have turned it south about what could happen. A big factor was what happened in China, where they halted the return of their league and one of the big reasons was they really believed that if they just tested the players' temperature all the time that it would. The Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers are causing maybe a second wave in that country. They have just slammed the breaks on sports.

"The talks between the players union and the league this week -- I've talked to both sides of this issue -- and it is clear the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down. Now, they don't have to do that yet, and the way they are negotiating, they are leaving themselves an option either way. But they are not having talks about how to restart the league, they are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down and I think there's a significant amount of pessimism right now."

The NBA reportedly had been looking at the idea of playing the playoffs in Las Vegas while keeping the players in a bubble without fans, but public health officials have poked holes in that idea.

Windhorst noted the NBA is walking a fine line in finishing this season without impacting the 2020-21 season, and the widespread availability of fast, reliable tests will be needed to finish this season.

"They do have runway here," Windhorst said. "I do think that they could go into August or September to finish this season. But I'm not sure they feel confident about that right now. A big factor is testing. We just don't have the testing. At some point, not only does there have to be a test that is quick and can tell if a player is healthy enough to enter the game, you have to know that you have the tests available so that you aren't taking them away from people who need them."

The NBA suspended its season March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Gobert and teammate Donovan Mitchell both have fully recovered from their bouts with COVID-19.

[RELATED: Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid stoppage]

Not finishing the NBA season would be a tough pill to swallow for the league, its players and its fans, but as we focus on social distancing and flattening the curve, it might be the only option.

As of April 3, there were more than 270,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and NBC News reporting.

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Programming note: The Warriors' 2015 win over the Boston Celtics will re-air on Saturday, April 4 at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

With Klay Thompson sidelined by a sprained right ankle and Harrison Barnes out with a sprained left ankle, the Warriors went limping into Boston with a perfect record but light on manpower and heavy on fatigue.

It was enough to give the Celtics, who had won four of their previous five games, reason for optimism on the morning of the game.

“We’re just playing good basketball right now,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder told reporters after shootaround. “I’m excited to keep it going for ourselves and our team. Like Brad [Stevens] said today, we’re just going to focus on ourselves. It comes down to us playing hard and protecting our homecourt.”

With the Celtics motivated to defend their homecourt against the defending champions and blemish their 23-0 mark, the Warriors -- playing under interim coach Luke Walton -- knew they’d have to offset those disadvantages with pride and pluck.

What they could not have known at tipoff on that December night is that these competing forces would produce perhaps the most riveting night of their 73-9 season.

A game compelling enough to be re-aired by NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday afternoon at 4.

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The Warriors were proud of their perfection and determined to protect it. They were wading, however, into the deep end of treachery, playing the final two games of a seven-game, 14-day road trip on back-to-back nights. Rarely does the NBA inflict such cruelty upon its teams.

They prevailed. It took not one but two overtimes -- with 16 ties and 22 lead changes -- but they left Boston with a 124-119 victory and their 24-0 record still intact.

“Nothing was pretty about this game the whole time,” Stephen Curry told reporters at TD Garden. “We got stops and everybody contributed ... This is a huge win for us.”

Curry played 47 minutes and submitted a game-high 38 points, along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. He had eight turnovers and shot 9-of-27 from the field, including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.

His teammates were splendid. Draymond Green totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks over 50 minutes. Andre Iguodala had 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals over 44 minutes. Centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli produced 14 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks over a combined 51 minutes. Shaun Livingston came up with a crucial late-game block.

Still, it was a 58-minute marathon, with the Warriors outhustling the Celtics to record a 67-51 rebounding advantage and a 10-7 edge in steals.

“Now I can admit I’m tired,” Curry said.

The win was an important moment for those Warriors.

“We will definitely cherish this because it doesn’t happen often,” Bogut said. “The record, the history, the team -- it doesn’t happen often so we will cherish it.

“Who knows? Next year you could be on a different team and nobody’s talking about you.”

Bogut was indeed on another team the following season, part of the roster shakeup in the wake of acquiring coveted free agent Kevin Durant in July 2016

But the big man had a point. Savor these moments that take you to the loftiest of places, where no team has ever gone. Enjoy the ride because it won’t last.

The Warriors had been stacking wins, one after another, for more than five weeks. The schedule was bound to take a physical toll and the winning meant mounting mental pressure. Beating the Celtics put the Warriors nine wins from the NBA’s all-time longest streak of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: Remembering the Warriors' five most memorable playoff moments]

It required a Curry triple to give the Warriors the lead late with 46 seconds left in regulation, followed by a crucial Iguodala 3-ball in the first OT and a critical bucket from Livingston in the second OT. Neither team could pull away.

The Warriors kept at it until they found a way to beat a very good team under adverse conditions. Not one of their other 72 victories surpassed this one for pure perseverance.