Team Records: Portland (42-22) at San Antonio (47-16)
Game Info: 6:30 PM-TV on ESPN/CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: San Antonio -7.5
Refs: Monty McCutchen, David Guthrie, LeRoy Richardson
The Skinny: Its not time to hit the panic button, not nearly but things could get dicey if they don’t turn around soon. The Blazers head into tonight’s game against the Spurs reeling and hope that they can get their second road win of the season in San Antonio. The Spurs have won seven in a row and have the best record in the league.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers lost a close and strange game to the Spurs in which neither team played with anywhere close to its normal lineups. Marco Belinelli lead the way for the Spurs, including hitting several hit shots late to win the game for San Antonio.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-17th Season)-15.5 PPG, 10 RPG, 2.9 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-3rd Season)-12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.8 APG.
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-4th Season)-8.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.3 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-5th Season)-8.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 APG.
PG-Tony Parker (France-13th Season)-17.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 6.2 APG
Player to Watch-Kawhi Leonard (Pictured at right)-Ah Kawhi Leonard, yet another player that when the Spurs grabbed him in the draft a few years ago the rest of the league immediately knew would be good. He certainly has been a key piece for the Spurs in just a few short NBA seasons. When healthy, Leonard has missed about a quarter of his team’s games in the last two years, he has been a very good offensive force for the Spurs, shooting 52% from the floor this year, mostly from inside but also capable of hitting 3s at a decent 36% clip. Leonard is also an above-average rebounder and very good defender, averaging nearly two steals a game, impressive for a player who does not guard the other team’s primary ball handler. It is not accident the Spurs are 7-0 since his return from his latest injury and he will be key for Portland to stop if they want a chance Wednesday.
Did You Know?: The Blazers set a franchise record for points in a quarter when they scored 49 in the first quarter against the Spurs on 11/25/1990. The 49 points is also the single highest point total ever given up in a quarter by the Spurs.
Song of the Day: “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves-The Blazers aren’t having any fun right now, maybe it would help if they whistled while they worked. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), Questionable-PG Mo Williams (Hip)
San Antonio: None
Re-Evaluating the Spurs: Age is but a Number
For the past several years many in the NBA have been saying the Spurs are too old to win anymore, that their championship window is closed and they can’t possibly hold it together long enough to win another title. Well after coming as close as one possibly can to winning a title without actually winning one last season the Spurs haven’t missed a beat. They are rolling at the right time of the year and look poised for yet another possible title run. Sure they may not get the job done but they are not too old to do so. For you see, to the Spurs age is but a number, nothing more.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit San Antonio’s 3-pointers. When the Spurs get rolling, they kick the ball out to open shooters who make 3 pointers. That can’t happen Wednesday if Portland wants to come out with a win.
San Antonio wins if: They outrebound Portland. The Spurs are pretty much an above average rebounding team. Still, rebounds are often harbingers of what effort teams are bringing on a given night. If they can outwork Portland on the boards, they should be able to win.