Warriors welcome Blazers for long-awaited home opener
The Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors get an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the NBA's new version of a doubleheader when they meet Friday night in San Francisco.
The Western Conference clubs, who have gone head-to-head in the playoffs in three of the past five seasons, are scheduled for a rematch, also in San Francisco, Sunday.
The Warriors will become the last team in the NBA to host a home opener, having started with blowout losses at Brooklyn and Milwaukee, followed by narrow wins at Chicago and Detroit.
Golden State was at its season-best both offensively and defensively in Tuesday's 116-106 win at Detroit, shooting 50 percent from the field and limiting the Pistons to 38 percent.
Stephen Curry has been the driving force in the Warriors' offensive improvement. He averaged 19.5 points and shot 4-for-20 on 3-pointers against the Nets and Bucks, games in which Golden State was held to 99 points apiece.
But Curry has found the range in his last two outings, hitting 10 of his 24 3s while posting a 33.5 scoring average, helping the Warriors put up 129 points against the Bulls and 116 against the Pistons.
Now Golden State expects to get defensive ace Draymond Green on the court for the first time after he missed the first four games following a positive coronavirus test and a subsequent strained right foot.
All told, Golden State coach Steve Kerr is happy where his team sits.
"I think coming into this trip, when the season schedule came out, we all looked at it and we all thought if we could go 2-2, that'd be a really successful trip," he said after the win in Detroit. "Especially given the length of our offseason and everything going on with our team: Draymond being out, Draymond missing camp, all that.
"So I think we all feel great. We're excited to get home. And our confidence level should be rising because we're starting to see the type of team that we should be."
The Trail Blazers got a veteran forward back from COVID-19 issues when Carmelo Anthony made his season debut in Wednesday's 128-105 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Anthony was the team's top scorer off the bench with 15 points in 25 minutes.
Portland has opened 2-2 against a tough schedule that has featured all Western Conference playoff teams from last season. They had won in Los Angeles 115-107 against the Lakers two nights before falling to the Clippers.
Now the Trail Blazers embark on a five-game stretch in which they won't see a 2020 playoff club.
"We've won some close games, we've got blown out," guard CJ McCollum said. "But at the end of the day, we're 2-2 (a week) into the season. So there's a lot of time left to kind of figure things out. We have two games left on this road trip, so we have to take care of business."
Interestingly, Friday's game features the current record-holder for points scored in the 1-year-old Chase Center in San Francisco, and it isn't Curry.
Portland's Damian Lillard, an Oakland native, poured in an arena-record 39 last November in a 127-118 loss.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 31, 2020