If theres been a surprising aspect of the Warriors season,its been their improvement on the road. After going just 10-31 away fromOracle Arena last season, the Warriors are 9-13 on the road this year. GoldenState has won four of its last six road games.The Warriors will try to improve on that stretch Sundaynight when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the Rose Garden. Manyconsidered the Blazers a lock to make the playoffs this season, but theirseason went sideways about a month ago and the franchise ended up firing coachNate McMillan.Portland has lost 10 of its past 14 games. Golden State canpull even with the Blazers in the standings if it beats PortlandSunday.Here are some things to watch for during theWarriors-Blazers game:Thompson-Batum: Warriors rookie shootingguard Klay Thompson is coming off a career-high 31-point game against the Kingson Saturday night. The Blazers have one of the better perimeter defenders inthe league in Nicolas Batum.It seems apparent Batum will likely defend Thompson at times, and that shouldbe a challenge for Thompson. Batums length can often give wing playerstrouble, and it will be interesting to see how Thompson plays going up againsta top-notch defender.Defending Aldridge: Now that the Warriorsno longer have Ekpe Udoh traded to Milwaukee as part of the MontaEllis-for-Andrew Bogut trade they have a weakness when it comes to guardingcompetent scoring power forwards.The responsibility of defending Aldridge will likely fall inlarge part to David Lee, but hes not as effective as Udoh in the role oflow-post defender. Its worth keeping an eye on how the Warriors defendbig-time power forwards (Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, etc.) not thatUdoh is no longer in the fold.Jenkins opportunity: With Nate Robinsonsstatus for tonight unknown, it could be big minutes for rookie point guardCharles Jenkins. Robinson strained his right hamstring on Saturday nightagainst the Kings and did not return.If Robinson cant go, the Warriors are down to only onepoint guard and thats Jenkins. Look for Jenkins to get significant minutes, and his job will be to takeare of the ball, run the team and take what the defense gives him.
After six years as an Executive Board member for the Warriors, Jerry West unexpectedly departed in June. He took an advisory role with the division rival Clippers.
It was a curious move for the 79-year-old. Leave the defending champs for a team in turmoil?
On Monday, the former Lakers legend and Hall of Famer talked about his move south an interview with The Athletic's Tim Kawakami.
"Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there.
But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper."
West then explains why he's not with the Warriors anymore.
"It was time for me to leave. I’m in Los Angeles again. For me, I’ll have a chance to go in the office a little bit and watch some of the people that have been hired, to watch our coaches coach. I’ve often said I’ve done some crazy things in my life because of the timing and maybe the timing was right."
West won one NBA title as a player and has eight as an executive, including two with the Warriors.
The Clippers, along with West, get their first look at the defending champion Warriors on Monday, Oct. 30 in Los Angeles.
It's been a pretty good run for the Warriors over the last three seasons:
- 2014-15 = 67-15, NBA champions
- 2015-16 = 73-9, NBA runner-up
- 2016-17 = 67-15, NBA champions
And Steve Kerr is on record saying that his team will be even better in 2017-18.
The Warriors' head coach recently sat down with Scott Ostler of The San Francisco Chronicle and explained why he isn't concerned about the upcoming campaign.
“Ultimately, we’re in a great spot. Our guys are happy, they’re doing their thing. There’s no need for much drama. The most impressive thing with our guys is, people talk about Pat Riley’s book and what he calls ‘the disease of me,’ where you win a championship and all of a sudden, everyone wants a bigger role, more money, whatever.
“I think that is sort of human nature, to want more. But our guys I think, have a genuine awareness that they’re getting all that through winning. More is coming their way individually as a result of the team’s success.
"It takes a really mature perspective to feel that way.”
Nothing exemplifies Kerr's thoughts more than Kevin Durant's financial sacrifice.
He could have earned about $34.7 million yet agreed to a $25 million salary for next season to help the Warriors retain Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
Golden State replaced Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo and Matt Barnes with Nick Young, Omri Casspi and Jordan Bell.
Otherwise, everybody else is back.
"We have a lot of momentum, and our guys have a comfort level, and obviously, we’re loaded with talent," Kerr told The Chronicle. "It’s fun to think about the season, think about where we can get better, players we can add. That’s what I spend a lot of my time down here doing, just thinking about what’s next for us.
“But I don’t worry at all about us being successful; I don’t worry about anybody’s ego getting in the way.”
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller