Team Records: Portland (20-6) at San Antonio (17-9)
Game Info: 5 PM-TV on ESPN/CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
ESPN Announcers: Ryan Ruocco, Hubie Brown, Israel Gutierrez
Vegas Line: San Antonio -4
Refs: Jason Phillips, Brent Barnaky, Gary Zielinksi
The Skinny: The Blazers begin a brutal four games in five nights road trip against the defending champion Spurs. Since they met on Monday, the Blazers beat the Bucks while the Spurs lost to the Grizzlies in a 3 OT thriller. The Spurs have lost two straight and three of four.
Last Time They Met: The shorthanded Spurs hung around for most of the game but eventually succumbed to the Blazers 108-95 in a game that was closer than the final score indicated. LMA and Lillard each posted 23 points and Dame posted a career high 10 rebounds in the win.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-18th Season)-15 PPG, 11 RPG, 3.1 APG.
SF-Boris Diaw (France-12th Season)-8.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.6 APG
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-5th Season)-5.8 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.8 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-6th Season)-12.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG.
PG-Cory Joseph (Texas-4th Season)-9.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 2.7 APG.
Player to Watch: Tim Duncan (pictured at right)-Duncan is the premier PF of his generation, a surefire first ballot hall of famer and as smart as the Spurs have been with building the rest of their team, they probably don’t win a single title if they don’t get lucky all those years ago and win the Draft Lottery and thus Tim Duncan. Duncan is aging gracefully as well, with numbers this season not that far below his career averages. Although Duncan can’t have many more years left in him, this quiet superstar will keep working hard to play as well as he can until he finally decides to ride off into the proverbial sunset.
Did You Know?: The Spurs outscored their opponents in the 2014 playoffs by a total of 214 points, the largest margin in NBA history.
Song of the Day: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python-A funny classic like this one seemed appropriate going into this very difficult road trip. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – C Robin Lopez (Hand), Questionable-SF Nicolas Batum (Wrist/Knee)
San Antonio: Out-PG Patty Mills (Shoulder), PG Tony Parker (Hamstring), SF Kawhi Leonard (Hand)
Re-Evaluating the Spurs: Depth from Random Places
How do the Spurs keep wining even with an aging core? The answer is twofold. First, they have perhaps the best coach currently in the NBA, and second, they have insane depth at all positions. The combination means that when one Spurs player goes out, another is ready to take their place and ready to follow the Spurs system to the letter. The Blazers will need to be on their toes Friday and know that literally anyone wearing a Spurs uniform can hurt them at any time.
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 might be shorthanded but they are so well coached that if they play the way they are capable, few teams can beat them. If they are able to play the style they most prefer, they should win.