Feb 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after a three point shoot in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (36-23) at Toronto Raptors (32-26): 3 keys to a clean slate

Feb 24, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (7) dribbles the ball as Golden State Warriors center Jermaine O

The Golden State Warriors play the Toronto Raptors in a rare 4:00PM tipoff game today, and the home team shouldn’t need any fiery speeches from their coach as motivation. The Raps and their fans remember all too well the meltdown in Oakland on December 3, in which Toronto was outscored 42-15 in Q4 to lose a game they led by 27 in Q3. That weekend, Rudy Gay became a King, and the Raps restarted their season.

The Warriors are playing their fourth of six straight road games, and have won two already, including an evisceration of the Knicks on Friday night. GSW’s brilliant point guard, Stephen Curry, racked up a triple-double in New York, and is happy to play Toronto, a team he has averaged more points against (27.3) than any other. Here’s hoping Terrence Ross’s ankle tweak is healed sufficiently to allow him to guard Curry. The Raps will have to pick their poison defensively, as shooting guard Klay Thompson will happily fire away from anywhere. He is #3 and Curry is #1 in made 3-balls; Curry also leads in assists per game. Both are over 40% from distance this season. Be afraid – be very afraid.

The Warriors aren’t missing much up front either. Power forward David Lee more than makes up for a lack of bulk with speed and timing. He can hit mid-range jump shots all day, or will duck inside if guarded tightly. Veteran small forward Andre Iguodala scores enough to be dangerous, and will give DeMar DeRozan all he can handle defensively. At centre is Andrew Bogut, who’s been healthy for what seems to be the first team in a lengthy career. He’s their rebounding and shot-blocking leader, and has some nice moves underneath the basket when needed.

The Warriors’ second unit features a rejuvenated Jermaine O’Neal, veteran guard Steve Blake and talented young shooter Harrison Barnes. In short, they don’t lose much when the starters get a rest.

The Raps are in tough here, but can win if:

  • Jonas Valanciunas holds Bogut to a draw. I’m not optimistic about this, as Marcin Gortat schooled JV on Thursday night, but we must hope he learned from that experience.
  • Kyle Lowry is healthy enough to bother Curry. While I called for TRoss to cover Curry, I realize that’s impractical. Kyle has to be in someone’s face, and it’s hard for me to see him on the much taller and bulkier Thompson. Can Kyle try to pick Curry’s pocket before half-court?
  • all our rotation players contribute offensively. We need points from John Salmons and Patrick Patterson. Greivis Vasquez should be able to find space against an often sluggish Warrior defense – will he hit?

Predicting a winner here is difficult enough, and rendered more so by the fact that Lowry, Ross and Amir Johnson are all tiptoeing around on gimpy ankles. If our guys are at full power, we can outscore them, but I think I’m dreaming in Technicolour. Warriors win 108-99.

Tags: Golden State Warriors Toronto Raptors

  • asifyouknow

    Your quote Brian: “Greivis Vasquez should be able to find space against an often sluggish Warrior defense – will he hit?”

    I have to lol when I hear quotes like-will he hit a shot- through out theToronto nation:

    1) The guy is healthy now, as a long time fan I can tell by his movement. He might still lack conditioning, when he plays over 20 minutes he gets sluggish and makes silly mistakes, but the good thing is that by the playoff Vaz will be primed to help Toronto.

    2) The guy is a 43% shooter -since the day he was born- :) Vazquez said a long time ago the second half of the season would be different.

    Look at the games since the all-star.

    I’m guessing that he did not want to push too early and get himself hurt again. He had a plan on how he was going to get back to form.

    He will have bad games like everybody else, the difference is that some guys in this team might go 0-8 and they keep shooting if Vaz goes 0-2 Casey panics.

    He will do well because he needs a good contract next year. He really belong with coach D’Antoni of the Lakers or wherever he is coaching next year.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi asif:

      You offer a vigorous defense of our man Greivis, and that’s good. Note that I’m in his corner. I like him a great deal as a change-of-pace point guard. He’s not equipped to be a starter over the long term, but he doesn’t have to be in order to contribute.

      I’ve watched and played hoops for a long time, and one of the few things I’m convinced of is the need for a winning team with to have a lot of different looks/skills. Greivis provides the Raps with just that, and seems to be happy here. I hope he stays.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • asifyouknow

        I guess we both have an opinion, no crime in that.

        Last year in Orleans he played with about 7 D-leaguers, the only legit players they had were Anderson, Davis and Gordon who took turns being hurt, so they basically played half season.

        New Orleans bench are now bagging groceries at your local store, lets just say the best one of the bunch was Austin Rivers, that should tell you everything.

        Yet Vaz was able to put up great numbers as a starter, around 15pts and 9 assists with bone spurs in his foot, if you are a player I’m sure you know what that is and how painful it must be.

        That is why I feel he will be a starting point guard or a 30 minute guy PG/SG somewhere, he is healthy and will be playing with better teammates than in NO.

        You said you were a coach , so let me ask you how does it takes a PG to build chemistry with a team at the NBA level? My guess is a couple years.

        My hope is he plays for D’Antoni next year, wherever he is..lol.hopefully LA, that is his type of coach, Casey is a little paranoid with Vaz .

        Last 10 games 10 ppg 48% and 4 assist

        Last 5 games 15 ppg 50% and 4 assists

        There is a story there my friend and will only get better. The only obstacle he has now is Casey…lol

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi asif:
          I’ll answer your PG question by agreeing with you; at least 2 years is needed to create chemistry. Most NBA teams aren’t patient enough. It’s the same with Centres – very few of those guys dominate early, and you have to wait for them. Their bodies take a long time to mature (mid-20s?), and there’s an enormous amount to learn in the meantime. Simply figuring out how to avoid foul trouble can take years.
          Back to Vaz: I’m rooting for him. A solid backup PG is a necessity for a championship-grade squad, and he’s the best we’ve got.
          Stay in touch.