The Golden State Warriors will try to avenge one of their six losses when the Portland Trail Blazers visit on Friday. The Warriors looked off in the first game after the All-Star break and were crushed 137-105 at Portland but have won nine of 10 since to stay ahead of the pace set by the record-setting 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Golden State was answering some questions about itself after an embarrassing 112-95 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend and a series of close wins, but again looked like a dominant team in a 115-94 thrashing of the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Stephen Curry’s heroics had bailed the Warriors out several times since the All-Star break but he needed only 12 points on Wednesday as the rest of the team shot 61.1 percent from the field. The Trail Blazers were in the middle of a run of 14 wins in 16 games when they knocked off Golden State, but they dropped three in a row against teams fighting for playoff spots in the East before returning home and bouncing back on Tuesday. Damian Lillard, who put up 51 points in that win over the Warriors on Feb. 19, went for 41 points and 11 assists in the 116-109 overtime triumph over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN Northwest (Portland), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 13-point home favorites. While the total opened at 224 and has been bet up to 225.
Trail Blazers – No injuries to report.
Warriors – C F. Ezeli (Out Friday, knee).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Trail Blazers (-3.5) – Warriors (-14.7) + home court (-3) = Warriors -14
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “A 3-9-1 ATS slide that includes an embarrassing outright loss to the Lakers puts the Warriors’ rating behind that of the Spurs by the largest margin we have seen all season in my power rankings. When it comes to the Blazers, barring some kind of collapse, I’m going to stump for Terry Stotts to be Coach of the Year every week in this space. The Blazers have already eclipsed the win total the oddsmakers had projected for them at the start of the season.” – Covers Expert Power Sports
DANCE TEAM WAR:
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (34-31, 37-28 ATS, 36-29 O/U): Lillard is putting himself in some historic company with his performances of late and joined Oscar Robertson and LeBron James as the only players to record at least 1,500 points and 400 assists in each of their first four seasons when he pushed past those numbers on Tuesday. “Not a lot of guys get that opportunity to shoot the ball as many times as I did from the jump, had the ball in their hand as many times,” Lillard told reporters. “I give a lot of credit to Coach (Terry) Stotts for that, for having that trust in me and allowing me to be able to accomplish something like this.” Lillard’s strong play has lifted Portland into sixth place in the West, one game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (57-6, 35-26-2 ATS, 36-26-1 O/U): Golden State’s point differential in its first 10 games following the All-Star break was only plus-1.4, leading to some concern heading into Wednesday. The Warriors eased those concerns with the strong effort against the Jazz and now need to go 16-3 over their final 19 games to break Chicago’s record and hold off the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West. “Coach (Steve Kerr) preached that the last 20 games are about getting ready for the playoffs, so guys got focused, guys went out there and played good basketball, and we ended up with a win,” Marreese Speights, who scored 16 points in 15 minutes off the bench against the Jazz, told reporters.
* Trail Blazers are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games playing on two days rest.
* Warriors are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight versus Western Conference opponents.
* Over is 5-0 in Trail Blazers last five versus Western Conference opponents.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Early on, 62 percent of wagers are backing the underdog Trail Blazers. As for the total, bettors love the over, with 78 percent of wagers on it.