Team Records: San Antonio (2-0) at Portland (1-1)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: San Antonio -2.5
Refs: Ed Malloy, Mark Ayotte, Pat Fraher
The Skinny: After a rare win in Denver last night, the Blazers return home for their home opener against the defending west champs. The Spurs are their usual solid selves this season and have two solid wins early this season. This game promises to be an early test of Portland’s newly jumbled roster.
Last Season: The Blazers won the season series 2-1. Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Portland is 12-5 against the Spurs.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-17th Season) 3 PPG, 6 RPG, 2 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-3rd Season)-16 PPG, 9 RPG, .5 APG.
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-4th Season)-10 PPG,11 RPG, 2.5 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-5th Season)-5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1 APG.
PG-Tony Parker (France-13th Season)-18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 7.5 APG.
Player to Watch: Tim Duncan (pictured at right)-Maybe it’s the fact that he plays in a small market or maybe it’s the fact that Tim Duncan has never craved the spotlight like many of his peers but Duncan has perhaps never been fully appreciated as a player. 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 and Blazers have been evenly matched for years, with the all-time series tied at 74 wins each
Song of the Day: “I Believe I Can Fly” by R Kelly-One of the top songs the year Tim Duncan was drafted, it was initially released as part of the movie “Space Jam”. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Foot), Questionable-PG Earl Watson (Calf)
San Antonio: Questionable-PF Tim Duncan (Chest)
San Antonio’s Game:
Everything the Spurs do, either on or off the court, seems to be designed to get the most out of the talent they have. Year in and year out, coach Popovich has his team coached up and ready to go. On offense, they constantly rotate the ball to open shooters, either resulting in a good jump shot or a drive to the basket. The Spurs have one of the best offenses in the league, and are especially deadly from deep, ranking among the league leaders last season. On defense, the Spurs manage to play tight defense without fouling, allowing opponents to shoot very few FT attempts per game. They are not, however, the same feared bunch they once were on defense, and can be beaten if you are able to take and make open shots. Although not as good as they once were, the Spurs are nonetheless a tough team and you need to play disciplined basketball to beat them.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They feed off the crowd. The Spurs are better than the Blazers but they have often struggled to win in Rip City. The Blazers will have to feed off their crowd on opening night if they are to prevail.
San Antonio wins if: They play their game. The Spurs are a very good team and if they play close to their normal game, it should be a win for them.