Western Conference Playoffs, Round 2, Game 1, Portland at San Antonio
Series Status: Series Tied 0-0
Game Info: 6:30 PM-TV on TNT, Radio on 620 AM.
TNT Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Jammie Maggio.
Vegas Line: San Antonio -6.5
Refs: Tony Brothers, Tony Brown and Tom Washington, Sean Corbin (Alternate)
The Skinny: The Blazers look to begin their second playoff series this year much as they began their first, with a win on the road in Texas, albeit in hopefully less dramatic circumstances. Portland advanced to the second round in six games after Lillard’s miracle three pointer catapulted them past the Rockets. The Spurs, on the other hand, were forced to a seventh game, which they handily won over Dallas. This is the first playoff matchup between the two teams since 1999.
Season Series: The two teams split the season series 2-2, with each winning once at home and once on the road. Portland is 14-7 against the Spurs since the start of the 2008 season, the best record in the NBA against San Antonio over that span.
Series in Review (Home team in bold for completed games, *=If necessary):
Game 1-Tuesday at San Antonio-6:30 PM (TNT)
Game 2-Thursday at San Antonio-6:30 PM (ESPN2)
Game 3-Saturday at Portland-7:30 PM (ESPN)
Game 4-May 12 at Portland-7:30 PM (TNT)
Game 5*-May 14 at San Antonio
Game 6*-May 16 at Portland
Game 7*-May 19 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-Manu Ginobili (Pictured at right)-As good as the Spurs were this regular season, there remains considerable doubt that they would still be playing if not for Manu’s excellent performances against the Mavs in the opening round. Manu was simply sensational, scoring well above his season averages on offense and making play after play. On defense, Manu was very good as well, forcing a lot of steals and generally wreaking havoc against Dallas’s offense. Manu is much like a sixth starter for the Spurs and is critically important to their success. Portland has to do better than Dallas did if they want to advance.
Did You Know?: The Blazers have played in 218 playoff games as a franchise, which is exactly the same number of playoff games as Tim Duncan has played in his career.
Song of the Day: “A Whole New World” from Aladdin-With the Blazers having won their first series since 2000, its a whole new world for this franchise and many of its fans. Enjoy:
San Antonio: None
Recapping San Antonio’s Season:
If there is a more brutal way to lose the NBA finals than the Spurs had last year, I don’t want to be anywhere near it. Just seconds away from victory in game 6 and their fifth NBA title, the Spurs were robbed by a Ray Allen 3. For many teams they might have moped and not recovered from that but the Spurs are not many teams. Instead, the Spurs rolled to a league-best 62 win regular season like the machine they are. Sure the Spurs have their stars, Duncan, Parker and Manu but what makes them special is two things, coaching and depth. Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the league and always gets the most out of his players. As for depth, the Spurs don’t need to have monster nights from a few players, although that certainly helps, they merely need to have good nights from several players. The Spurs beat you by way of 10,000 cuts, all of which are small, none of which would be fatal in and of itself but which combined are devastating. Every single player on the Spurs roster knows their role and plays within the system well enough that there usually isn’t that much of a dropoff when the starters take a rest. They might not be the most talented team in the league but by getting the most out of the substantial talent they do have, and being deep, they are a lethal combination that is hard to beat.
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 Tuesday 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.