Give the Blazers credit. They came into Oracle Arena without Damian Lillard and hung in for the duration. Portland didn’t get the win — losing 125-117 — but it was the first time this season they were competitive with Golden State.
The Warriors beat the Blazers 135-90 on Dec. 17 at Oracle and 127-101 on Nov. 1 in Portland. Stephen Curry had 35 points and Kevin Durant 30 in a game that wasn’t dissimilar from the last Warriors’ home game — a 127-119 win over Denver.
Among the topics that came up:
–It got lost in the shuffle, but coach Steve Kerr made bold move, and it paid off on Wednesday. Draymond Green picked up his fifth personal foul with just 16 seconds gone in the fourth quarter, but Kerr chose not to sub. Instead, he kept Green in the game, and Green played just fine, playing the next five minutes both foul free and effective.
The idea of Kerr keeping Green in the game at that point has got to point to Kerr feeling at least a little vulnerable to getting beat.
–Andre Iguodala played 30 minutes but managed just three shots and didn’t really even look like he wanted to take that many. Wednesday was one of those games where Iguodala looked gun shy at the offensive end. Iguodala chipped in with six assists and five rebounds but at times his unwillingness to shoot gums up the Warriors’ offensive works.
One of coach Kerr’s challenges this year will be to make sure his veterans — Iguodala, David West and Shaun Livingston — are healthy and rested come playoff time. With their bench thinner than a year ago, it’s imperative that Kerr has each of those three guys at his disposal when the stakes are highest.
–For everyone who wants to worry about the Warriors’ defense — and they gave up 71 in the first half — the reality is they rank near the top of many defensive categories when you adjust for pace and possessions. But yes, at times it seems as if buckets come too easy from the opposition. C.J. McCollum was fantastic in the first half, much of which came against Curry, scoring 24 points. In the second half, the Warriors made things much tougher on McCollum and he was less of a factor. He finished with 35, but was only 3-for-12 from the field in the second half.
If you’re worried about the Warriors, consider this: they rank first in steals per game (6.1), first in blocks per game (9.3) and first in deflections per game (19.6).