PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7:00, followed by the Warriors-Blazers at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10:00 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
The Warriors are coming off two difficult home losses toIndiana and Memphis and should be hungry for a win. The Blazers are playingtheir third game in three nights, a good, old-fashionedback-to-back-to-back.While the season is only a quarter old, it feels as if theWarriors are at a little bit of a crossroads. Theyre in Game 3 of a six-gamehomestand and need to get moving if their goal is to have a successfulseason.Here are some things to watch for:Sense of desperation: After what has happened in the pasttwo games, look for the Warriors to come out and try to be the aggressors fromthe get-go. Warriors coach Mark Jackson seemed as upset with his teams effortlevel as he did with their failure to execute late in the Memphis game.With the Warriors at 5-11 and things seemingly spiralingdownhill some, the team needs a win, plain and simple. If Golden State isntnoticeably playing very hard, then something is wrong.Making progress or not: Its no secretthe Warriors have failed consistently in late-game situations this season. Theball has been in Monta Ellis hands for most of the times the Warriors havebeen in that situation, but Jackson said recently hes not married to thatnotion.Whatever Jackson decides to do during important possessions,its time for the Warriors to show improvement when it comes to closing outgames. If the game against Portland is close down the stretch, its time tolook for a different result out of the Warriors.Defending Aldridge: LaMarcus Aldridge hasturned into one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He can post up smallerdefenders and he can consistently knock down perimeter jumpers when guarded bybigger men.Issue is that Portand is sound enough around Aldridge thatyou cant consistently devote two defenders to him or hell make you pay. Allin all, Aldridge is a tough matchup for Golden State.Take care of the ball: The one area wherethe Warriors could show improvement immediately is to take care of the ballbetter. They committed a season-high 24 turnovers against Memphis, includingnine in the fourth quarter.Its not too soon to clean that up and there has never beena better time for Ellis, Stephen Curry and the rest of the team to show that theyrealize valuing the ball is important.