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Mar 09, 2018

Friday's Essentials

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Game of the Night - Golden State at Portland, NBC Sports-Bay Area, 10:05 ET

The Rockets and Pelicans take winning streaks that have reached double-digits into tonight’s NBA action, while the teams with the next two most successful runs will square off against one another in Portland.

Stephen Curry won’t play, taking a little of the shine off the matchup, but the Warriors have more than enough to keep the Trail Blazers’ winning streak from reaching nine games. Steve Kerr even quipped after Thursday’s 110-107 comeback win over San Antonio that his team will have to manufacture offense without the two-time MVP, but he’s well aware of how loaded his roster is, well-equipped enough that they should survive Curry’s absence.

Look for caution to prevail following Curry’s fourth ankle sprain of the season, a tweak that wasn’t considered to be too serious but still kept him out for the remainder of the night after he rolled it 2:23 seconds into the game. He ended up not flying to Portland with the team and won’t join them in Minnesota, where the Warriors will play a nationally televised game on Sunday.

Everyone was in a good enough mood to joke about Curry’s latest misstep since they were able to rally from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit in a 110-107 win over San Antonio to pick up their seventh straight win, going ahead on a Draymond Green putback with 1:33 left. The Warriors have won 10 of 11 games and are currently on their second-longest win streak of the season, trailing only an 11-game run that spanned from Nov. 29 through Dec. 22.




Portland is on its longest winning streak of the season, beginning this stretch with a 123-117 home win over these Warriors back on Feb. 14. Damian Lillard scored 44 points to overcome Kevin Durant dropping a 50-burger. The Blazers’ lone All-Star called it the best performance and best win of the season. Utah, Oklahoma City and Minnesota have all been victims on Portland’s run, but the sentiment likely still stands since Golden State hasn’t lost since and has a road record of 25-7.

Lillard, an Oakland native who has always taken his game up a few notches against his hometown team, is averaging 34.1 points over his last 11 games, scoring 35 or more points seven times.

Without Curry, Kerr has typically started Patrick McCaw, who is currently unavailable due to a wrist injury. Andre Iguodala, another option, is questionable with an arm injury, so Quinn Cook, Nick Young or Shaun Livingston are the most likely options to join Klay Thompson in the backcourt. I’d expect it to be Cook, who played 21:32 last night, his second-longest outing of the season. The Warriors are 7-0 in games he’s played at least 10 minutes.

Thompson shot just 6-for-15 in the Feb. 14 loss in Portland but will play a much more significant role against the guard combination of Lillard and C.J. McCollum. He’s dealing with a hip issue but is listed as probable. David West joins Iguodala in being questionable with an arm injury, while Jordan Bell joins McCaw in having been ruled out.

Durant had 37 points and 11 boards while Green added a triple-double against the Spurs, so they’ll be critical to avoiding a second straight loss to a Trail Blazers squad that they had defeated in 12 consecutive regular-season meetings prior to the Valentine’s Day loss.

Golden State is 11-4 in games Curry has missed this season. The under has prevailed in four straight games for both teams but is 1-1 in their meetings this season. The Warriors haven’t lost the season series to Portland since 2003. Oddsmakers moved Golden State from a 4-point favorite to 1/1.5 after due to Curry being sidelined.

Summit meeting in Canada

The teams with the top records in their respective conferences squard off in March. It's a huge game, too. The fact neither the Warriors or Cavs are involved has to be considered a major upset.

Instead, we get the Rockets putting their 17-game winning streak on the line in Toronto, where they've been installed as a 2-point favorite. This would seem to be the biggest obstacle separating the Rockets from smashing a franchise-record 22-game winning streak set a decade ago.




The Rockets wrap up four-game road stint in Dallas on Sunday, then return home for games against the Spurs and Clippers before playing a road back-to-back against the Pelicans and Timberwolves on March 17-18. Of those games, they would only possibly not be favored in Minnesota, but would likely see a spread similar to this one where they're favored by a bucket.

Houston is 8-3 against the spread over its last 11 and owns the NBA's top road record, currently 26-7. Toronto owns the league's best home record, having won 27 of 32 at the Air Canada Centre. DeMar DeRozan is playing his best basketball and comes off a 42-point night to pull off a win in Detroit.

Chris Paul didn't play in Toronto's 129-113 win in Houston on Nov. 14 but he'll be in the mix here. Ryan Anderson remains sidelined by a hip injury, but Clint Capela (calf) and Joe Johnson (illness) will both be available.

Injury Report

The Pacers list Victor Oladipo as probable despite an elbow injury that has hindered him the past few weeks. Indiana will also get back starting point guard Darren Collison from a knee injury that has sidelined him the last few weeks.

Chicago now has a full deck to play with since the NBA stopped them from sitting Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday when they're perfectly healthy. Only Paul Zipser remains out from the deep Bulls roster. Starting Pistons small forward Stanley Johnson is listed as questionable with a back injury that kept him out Wednesday.


New York won't have shooting guard Courtney Lee for its visit to Milwaukee. The Lakers are still without Brandon Ingram (hip), for their date in Denver and probably won't have him until next week at the earliest.

Orlando has ruled out shooting guard Evan Fournier due to a knee issue and forward Aaron Gordon due to a concussion. Don't jump on the Kings blindly based on solely that. Sacramento may not have center Willie Cauley-Stein and rookie point guard De'Aaron Fox, their top defenders, due to back issues.


Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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