OAKLAND -– One of the best duels in the NBA produces its fourth installment this season Sunday afternoon when the Warriors play host to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard will face off once more. Curry has taken over the NBA and has reached icon status within the confines of Oakland’s Oracle Arena. Lillard always looks forward to returning to Oakland, where he grew up and honed his basketball skills.
The Warriors (68-8), coming off their first regular-season loss at Oracle in 14 months, will try to reestablish their home dominance against a team they could see in the Western Conference playoffs.
No team in the league is exceeding expectations better than Portland (41-36), which last summer lost four starters and entered a rebuilding phase. They are well ahead of schedule, with guards C.J. McCollum and Lillard leading the way.
The Blazers, a No. 4 seed in the playoffs last season, are battling Memphis for the fifth seed this season.
Warriors by 12.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard: Even though they won’t guard each other frequently, they both know how important they are to the fortunes of their respective teams. Curry leads the NBA in scoring. Lillard, who scored a career-high 51 against the Warriors on Feb. 19, ranks fifth. If Dame is brilliant in his return to his hometown, the Blazers have a chance. It’s that simple, confirmed by history.
Warriors: 8-2. Blazers: 6-4.
Warriors: C Andrew Bogut (bruised ribs) is listed as out. F Andre Iguodala (L ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful and F Kevon Looney (R hip soreness) is listed as out.
Blazers: C/F Meyers Leonard (L shoulder surgery) is listed as out.
The Warriors have won two of three meetings this season, the only loss being a 137-105 rout – their worst defeat of the season – on Feb. 19 in Portland. The Warriors have won 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.
“Next game we want to get back to that winning kind of mentality here. It’ll be an important game for us on Sunday to not let this snowball into something that we don’t want it to be finishing up the season.” – Curry on the need to bounce back after the loss to Boston on Friday