Team Records: Portland (30-9) at San Antonio (24-16)
Game Info: 5:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: San Antonio -4.5
Refs: Jason Phillips, Matt Boland, Kevin Scott
The Skinny: The Blazers open up a tough back to back as they face the finally healthy Spurs on the road Friday night. The Spurs will feature their preferred starting lineup for one of the only times this season as Kawhi Leonard returns to action for the first time since their loss in Portland in December. The Spurs are 2-2 in their last four games.
Last Time They Met: Lillard-time happened, again and again as Lillard scored a career-high 43 points to will the Blazers to a 3 OT win over the Spurs. The Blazers are now 16-7 in their last 23 regular season games against the Spurs.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-18th Season)-15.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.1 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-4th Season)-15.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.2 APG
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-5th Season)-7.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-6th Season)-12.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.1 APG.
PG-Tony Parker (France-14th Season)-14.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.7 APG.
Player to Watch: Tony Parker (pictured at right)-He may fly under the radar at times but Tony Parker is constantly one of the best PGs in the NBA. He’s deceptively fast on offense, one moment laying back and the next he’s by you and scoring an easy layup. He’s an amazing finisher in tight spots and nearly automatic from the elbows. Parker does not have much of an outside shot but that’s okay since pretty much everyone else on the Spurs does. He’s not an aggressive defender but is rarely caught out of position. Tony Parker is a tough challenge for any opponent to face.
Did You Know?: The Spurs trio of Duncan, Parker and Manu is only the second trio in NBA history to win 500 games together (and they currently have 513). In first place all-time with 540 wins as a trio is Boston’s title winning combo of Bird, McHale and Parish.
Song of the Day: “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. It might seem hard for a short-handed Blazers team to beat the Spurs Friday but don’t tell this team that something is an impossible dream. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
San Antonio: Out-SF Marco Belinelli (Groin)
Re-Evaluating the Spurs: Don’t Sweat the Regular Season
Sure the Spurs are struggling right now but no one, least of all them, is going to panic because they know that when the playoffs come they’ll be ready (baring injury of course). The Spurs will probably end up winning enough games to get a decent enough seed but it doesn’t really matter. They can win anywhere, at home, on the road, in the playoffs and they rightly fear no one. While it might not be another title for San Antonio this June, don’t be surprised to see them playing long into May, even as much as they are struggling now.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Dame and LMA combine for at least 55 points. Lillard has often played well against the Spurs, as has LMA. If the two stars can combine for 55 points Friday, the Blazers should prevail.
San Antonio wins if: They play Spurs basketball. The Spus are at near full strength Friday. If they play as they should on Friday night, they should be able to prevail..