OAKLAND –- Though the Warriors typically aren’t big on circling the calendar and zeroing in on a particular game, Friday night could be an exception.
Coming to visit Oracle Arena are the Trail Blazers, who battered the Warriors into the fetal position, winning by 32, when they met three weeks ago in Portland.
This, then, represents something of a barometer game for the Warriors (57-6). After going 2-1 in recent days against teams outside the postseason picture, they face a resurgent Blazers team that could be an opponent in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
That Portland (34-31) is in the race at all is a major surprise. The Blazers lost four starters, with Damian Lillard the only returnee. Snubbed once again for the All-Star team, Lillard since the break has cranked up his aggressiveness and effectiveness. Largely behind the Oakland High product, Portland has won 15 of its last 20.
The Warriors have lost the season series to Portland only once since 2002-03, and a win Friday would ensure at least a tie this season.
Warriors by 12.5.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard: Curry is lining up another MVP award, while Lillard should get plenty of secondary votes. There is genuine mutual admiration between these gunslingers, as Steph versus Dame is as good as it gets. Lillard has to win the matchup to give his team a chance. He did three weeks ago, going for 51 points.
Warriors: 9-1. Trail Blazers: 6-4.
Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (left knee surgery) is listed as out.
Trail Blazers: No injuries reported.
The teams split two meetings earlier this season, each winning at home. The Warriors posted a 128-108 win on Jan. 8, while taking their most decisive loss of the season, 137-105, on Feb. 19 at Moda Center is the most decisive loss of the season for the Warriors. The Warriors have won nine of the last 12 meetings overall.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say the loss stuck in our mind. It’s ... how we lost. We had double-digit turnovers in the third quarter, which changed the whole game. Once that happened, they caught fire.” –Draymond Green on the loss at Portland on Feb. 19