Two teams that have been unbeatable of late at home duel on the Golden State Warriors’ home floor when the Western Conference front-runners host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in San Francisco.
The Warriors will put a nine-game home winning streak on the line when they complete a three-game homestand that began with wins over the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers.
They had to rally from 19 points down in the second quarter to dispense of the short-handed and road-weary 76ers on Wednesday, and they did so by scoring 62 of the game’s final 95 points.
The resulting 116-96 win not only was Golden State’s ninth straight at home by at least 10 points, but it was the first time they’d been down at least 19 and won by at least 20 in the same game since November of 2017 at San Antonio.
The win came one day after Klay Thompson participated in five-on-five drills at Warriors practice for the first time since suffering a ruptured Achilles injury last November.
With the pending return of Thompson and James Wiseman (torn meniscus), Golden State coach Steve Kerr insisted he’s still very much in a one-game-at-a-time mode with his streaking club.
“I’m not doing it. Just being honest,” Kerr said if he’s been scripting a plan for the new look. “There’s also no point because it’s like when you watch a game and they go, ‘If the playoffs started today, here would be the matchups.’ That’s great, but the playoffs don’t start today. So same concept. Neither one of them is coming back this week or next week, so I’m not going to waste too much energy on it.”
While — and even before — the Warriors have been winning nine straight at home, the Trail Blazers have been putting together a similar run on their home court. They’ve won all nine of their games in Portland since a 124-121 loss to Sacramento on Opening Night.
The problem is: They’ve been nearly identically unsuccessful on the road, losing eight of nine, including their last two.
Their only road win so far has come at Houston.
The Trail Blazers began a three-game trip with a 125-121 loss at Sacramento on Wednesday. On the eve of another San Francisco Bay Area homecoming, Damian Lillard warmed up with a 32-point, 10-assist double-double.
The former Oakland prep standout noted afterward the game wasn’t lost at the offensive end.
“Defensively, when it came down to it, we weren’t able to get the stops that we needed,” he observed. “But the effort was there. We had some breakdowns. Made some mistakes.”
Lillard has had his ups-and-downs on his old stomping grounds.
He had six 3-pointers and 34 points in a 123-98 win at Golden State on New Year’s Day last January. But that was just his third win in 21 returns to Oakland/San Francisco, including an 0-7 run in playoff games.
Lillard and rival Stephen Curry have gone head-to-head 33 times in their career, with the Warriors prevailing in 15 of 23 regular-season duels and all 10 of their postseason clashes.
Curry countered with 26 points in the Jan. 1 loss last season, but he rebounded with 62 in a rematch in San Francisco two nights later, a game Golden State won 137-122.
–Field Level Media