OAKLAND – The Warriors return home for their final tune-up Friday night, when they face the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.
With opening night set for next Tuesday at Oracle, the Warriors will try to close out the preseason with six consecutive victories. Their only loss was delivered by Toronto in the Oct. 1 opener at Vancouver.
The game marks the return to Oakland of Blazers star guard Damian Lillard, and also the return to Oracle of ex-Warriors center Festus Ezeli, who signed with Portland in the offseason. Ezeli, however, is recovering from knee surgery and is expected to sit.
The Warriors are coming off a 123-112 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday in San Diego, while the Blazers (4-2) dispatched Utah 88-84 on that same night in Salt Lake City.
The teams engaged in a spirited battle last May during the Western Conference Semifinals before the Warriors prevailed in five games.
Warriors by 9.5
Warriors: F Kevin Durant, F Draymond Green, C Zaza Pachulia, G Klay Thompson, G Stephen Curry.
Trail Blazers: F Maurice Harkless, F Al-Farouq Aminu, C Mason Plumlee, G C.J. McCollum, G Damian Lillard.
Warriors: C JaVale McGee (L knee strain) is listed as questionable. C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery) is listed as out.
Blazers: C Meyers Leonard (lower back soreness) and G Shabazz Napier (L ankle sprain) are listed as questionable. C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) is listed as out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Warriors coach Steve Kerr experimented with playing rotations as recently as Wednesday night. With this being the preseason finale, we should get a much better feel for how the coach will stagger starters with reserves. Will he again try to run five reserves at once in the first half?
- The 3-point shots are going to fly. Always do with these teams, but now even more than before, as the addition of Durant gives the Warriors three extraordinary long-range shooters in the starting lineup and a fourth, Green, who is better than average. The Warriors will try to stretch the Portland defense to the breaking point.
- Curry and Lillard seek to bring out the best in each other, and sometimes that’s exactly what happens. But it was McCollum, who in August responded to a fan asking if Curry could guard him, by answering, “Nope.” Will it matter that this is a preseason game?
ALAMEDA – The Raiders should get Latavius Murray back in time to play the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That’s good news for the running game and the entire Raiders roster, which is surprisingly healthy at this point in the season.
Murray was listed as questionable on Friday’s official injury report but, barring a setback, is expected to play after missing two games with turf toe.
Murray was limited the entire week, but his return to football activity was a productive period.
“I thought he had a good week of practice,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “It was nice to have him back.”
Menelik Watson also returned this week, but was limited in each practice and deemed questionable for the game. He may be healthy enough to be active, but it’s uncertain whether he or Austin Howard will start at right tackle.
There are several examples of the Raiders bringing returners back slowly this season. They could make Watson an emergency option behind Howard in hopes of giving him another week to get back in the swing of things.
While there are key players on injured reserve, there was near-perfect attendance for Friday’s walk-thru practice before the team left for Jacksonville.
Brynden Trawick returned for this light session after missing two heavier days, though offensive tackle Vadal Alexander was considered a non-participant.
Raiders Status Report
OL Vadal Alexander (ankle)
RB Latavius Murray (toe), OL Rodney Hudson (knee), OL Gabe Jackson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Menelik Watson (calf), OL Jon Feliciano (calf), S Brynden Trawick (shoulder)
Jaguars Status Report
OT Kelvin Beachum (knee), DL Jared Odrick (hip), TE Neal Sterling (foot), TE Julius Thomas (ankle)
NOTE: Jacksonville’s CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), S Johnathan Cyprien (calf), S Tashaun Gipson (knee), RB Corey Grant (toe), WR Rashad Greene (Achilles), WR Allen Hurns (shoulder), DT Abry Jones (hamstring), G Brandon Linder (foot), DT Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and OT Jeremy Parnell (hip) did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.