Fast Forward: Warriors face Blazers with a lot still on the line

Fast Forward: Warriors face Blazers with a lot still on the line
April 13, 2014, 1:00 pm
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We probably won't play (the Blazers) in the playoffs, but it's going to be a playoff-like atmosphere.
Stephen Curry

KEYS TO THE GAME:

1) D up early. The Blazers are an explosive squad that rides the energy of consistent sellout crowds.
2) Pound the glass. The Warriors big men will have their hands full with Portland's active bigs.
3) Share the ball. Portland's defense has improved, but the Warriors are tough to slow when they keep the ball moving.

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers coverage begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations

PORTLAND – Shortly after the Warriors clinched a playoff berth Friday night in Los Angeles, a Southern California reporter asked coach Mark Jackson if he planned to rest his starters in the remaining games.

Jackson did not hesitate, saying such an approach would be premature for his squad.

"We will not rest guys until we have our position locked up," the coach said. "It's not our goal to just be a playoff basketball team."

For the Warriors (49-30), who are closing in on the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, the games still matter. They also matter for their next opponent, the Trail Blazers (52-28), who currently hold the No. 5 seed.

To keep alive the slim possibility of passing Portland and moving into the five seed, the Warriors must first beat the Blazers Sunday night at Moda Center and then win their final two games.

And they'll need the Blazers to also lose to the Clippers on Wednesday in Portland.

Highly improbable, yes, but there is the slightest opening.

"They have to help us out (if we are) to pass them now," point guard Stephen Curry said of the Blazers.

The Blazers have won seven of eight since the return of power forward LaMarcus Aldridge last month, after missing seven games with a lower back contusion. They will be in no mood to help, certainly not when there remains a possibility to overtake Houston for the No. 4 seed, assuring home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"Portland's got to play NBA teams," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said, "so anything can happen."

A Warriors win assures them of finishing no lower than sixth in the conference. Moreover, they continue to chase a consistency that has proved elusive. A home loss to Denver last Thursday is the latest disappointment to get under their skin.


And it will linger in the backs of their minds when they take the floor on Sunday.

"You want to win as many games as you can down the stretch," Curry said. "You don't want to have that losing feeling going into the playoffs, regardless of what it means in the standings.

"We probably won't play (the Blazers) in the playoffs, but it's going to be a playoff-like atmosphere."

That's always the case when two teams in the same conference, both new to contending but now fulfilling postseason aspirations, meet in the final week of the regular season.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Curry vs. Damian Lillard -- Each is an All-Star point guard and each is warming to the task of facing the other. They both can punish from deep, but Curry is the more versatile shot-maker and the more dynamic playmaker.

Andrew Bogut/David Lee vs. LaMarcus Aldridge/Robin Lopez -- Aldridge is a load on the block, usually too much for Lee. So Bogut often slides over, while Lee shadows Lopez, who lacks Aldridge's offensive arsenal. One of Lee's goals has to be pulling his man away from the glass.

INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, SF Andre Iguodala (right knee tendinitis) is probable. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery rehab) is out indefinitely.

For the Blazers, C Joel Freeland (right knee sprain) is a game-time decision.

LAST 10: Warriors 6-4, Blazers 7-3.

SERIES HISTORY: After losing the first meeting this season, the Warriors have won the last two, one at each venue. A win on Sunday would give the Warriors their seventh season-series victory in the past nine years.

More Team Talk