Western Conference Playoffs, Round 2, Game 5, Portland at San Antonio
Series Status: San Antonio leads 3-1
Game Info: 6:30 PM-TV on TNT, Radio on 620 AM.
TNT Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Jammie Maggio
Vegas Line: San Antonio -8
Refs: Ken Mauer, David Guthrie and Jason Phillips. Eric Lewis (alternate)
The Skinny: One down, three to go for the Blazers as they look to force a game six Friday night back in Portland. They will have to hope to better their performance Monday, which, although it led to a win, was certainly flawed in places. The Spurs can be expected to play better and if Portland wants to extend their season they need to as well.
Series in Review (Home team in bold for completed games, *=If necessary):
Game 1-San Antonio 116-Portland 92
Game 2-San Antonio 114-Portland 97
Game 3-San Antonio 118-Portland 103
Game 4-Portland 103-San Antonio 92
Game 5-Wednesday at San Antonio-6:30 PM (TNT)
Game 6*-Friday at Portland
Game 7*-Monday at San Antonio
Projected Spurs Lineup (Regular Season Averages):
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-17th Season)-15.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-3rd Season)-12.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2 APG.
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-4th Season)-8.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.5 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-5th Season)-9.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 APG.
PG-Tony Parker (France-13th Season)-16.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 5.7 APG
Player to Watch-Tiago Splitter (Pictured at right)-Splitter was so often a joke the last few years, the guy with talent who would do things like miss easy shots at the rim or shoot some atrocious FTs. Yet, he could also make some very good plays so there was clearly talent there. This season Splitter has put it all together, especially on defense. Splitter’s defense of Aldridge so far this series has been very good and he has been one of the keys for San Antonio’s 3-1 lead. Portland will have to look to counteract him if they want to win game 5.
Did You Know?: Under Coach Pop the Spurs have been up 3-0 12 teams and they have never faced a game six under Coach Pop after leading a series 3-0.
Song of the Day: “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J-Don’t call it a comeback, although we haven’t been here for years Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PG Mo Williams (Groin)
San Antonio: None
Adjustments: Avoiding the Early Knockout
What the Spurs do better than perhaps anyone else in the league is they don’t ease into a key game, they attack it from the very start, trying their best to knock you early and, at the very least, make you climb back from a big hole. The Blazers got all but knocked out of games 1-3 by halftime and although they got games 2 and 3 kind of close there was never a sense that Portland had a real shot of winning. If the Blazers want to play a game six they have to avoid that early knockout. If they can go into the half in the lead or within five points of it, they should stand a very good chance of winning.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They clean up their mistakes. You can’t expect the Spurs to miss as many open shots as they did Monday and so the Blazers have to do a much better job limiting silly turnovers and finishing good shots of their own. Do that and they’ll be another game Friday at home.
San Antonio wins if: They refind their games 1-3 form. If the Spurs play like they did in games 1-3, they will win game 5 and this series, period. There are very few teams, if any, that can hope to beat the Spurs if they are playing that well.