This is it, the most important game of the series. Lose, and it's time to start Photoshopping the gone fishin’ graphic. Win, and...well, it’s probably still time to get that graphic going.
Here's the thing—Steph Curry still isn’t playing. He’s practicing again, but he won’t be back until game four at the earliest. Even if the Blazers manage to take a game tonight behind a raucous home crowd, the MVP’s return is right around the corner. The Warriors are sword fighting left-handed when their right is the dominant hand.
The Blazers played well enough last game that they should probably avoid the sweep, but that’s basically the goal at this point. And even if they do get swept, Ian was right—it still feels great to have made it this far.
In game two, the Blazers had three quarters of most everything going right. Damian Lillard got going, the role players hit threes, and Portland’s defense did just enough to muck things up.
For a win tonight the Blazers are going to have to hope for that same outcome, just for a full four quarters instead of three. They have to hope Klay Thompson misses. They have to press up on Draymond Green and force him to put the ball on the floor to create his own shot. They have to be damn near flawless. The Warriors are just too deep and too talented, as evidenced by their 34-12 fourth quarter blitz last game.
The Blazers have to find an answer to the lineup of death with Green at center. Al-Farouq Aminu doesn’t provide enough rim protection on defense, and both Ed Davis and Mason Plumlee aren’t quick enough to chase him around the perimeter. So, uh, good luck? The rest of the league hasn’t been able to figure that lineup out either so it’s not like this is an isolated problem.
The Moda Center will be crazy tonight. Even if the eulogy on this season is already being written, the Blazers will get one hell of a Viking funeral sendoff. Tonight’s game is the coveted 5:30pm slot on ABC, unfamiliar national territory for these overachieving Blazers. Make it loud, Portland.