Ernie Johnson and company will have no shortage of material despite it being just a two-game night on Thursday. Golden State appeared to send a message to the NBA on Monday by hanging 141 on the Los Angeles Clippers in a rout.
The Warriors will have another chance to put the league on notice when they visit San Antonio for the first time this season. The second game of the doubleheader features the league’s rapping point guard, Damian Lillard, against its second-best rapping point guard, Lonzo Ball.
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Golden State dismantled the Clippers on Monday on the road and could pick up another signature win away from home in San Antonio.
These two have split their last 10 meetings overall, but the Warriors have struggled in San Antonio in the Gregg Popovich era, as have most teams in the NBA. Pop is 34-4 all-time against Golden State at home, with wins in 36 of the last 38 meetings.
Clearly Golden State has been better in recent years and those two wins have come in the last three meetings.
The Warriors are again the league’s best offense, posting a 119.7 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions). That number not only far exceeds last year’s 115.6, but it would be the highest rating in more than 40 years.
The difference for Golden State has been defensively. Last year the Warriors posted a 104.0 defensive rating, second-best in the NBA to only the Spurs. This season that number has jumped to 112.9. Only the Nets and Timberwolves have been worse defensively.
Meanwhile, the Spurs have struggled offensively without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. San Antonio’s 101.9 offensive rating ranks 24th in the NBA. The lone bright spot on that end of the floor has been LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging a career-high 23.6 points through seven games.
San Antonio has been the toughest place in the NBA to win over the last two decades, but this Golden State team is extremely good when motivated. There will be no shortage of want to entering Thursday’s showdown.
The Warriors will win, but history tells us to play the under. Four of their last five meetings in San Antonio have gone sub-200.
Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers
Spoiler alert: history does not favor the Lakers on Thursday. In fact, it tells us this game might not even be competitive.
Portland has won the last 12 meetings in the series with 10 of those coming by 10 or more points. The average margin of victory has been 14.
It’ll take a complete performance by the Lakers to change that, as the Blazers are the only team that is in the top eight in both offensive and defensive rating. The Lakers haven’t been bad defensively, but they hold the worst offensive rating (96.4) in the Western Conference.
No team in the NBA is worse at 3-point shooting than the Lakers, while nobody in the West defends the 3-point line better than the Blazers.
It is the second night of a back-to-back for Portland, but head coach Terry Stotts is one of the league’s best in managing minutes. Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the only Blazers that average more than 30 minutes per night.
Things get no easier for Ball and the Lakers, who will be facing a top 10 defense for the fourth time in their first eight games. Blazers win.