Team Records: Portland (28-32) at San Antonio (48-14)
Game Info: 5:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: San Antonio -11.5
Refs: Scott Foster, John Goble, Kevin Scott
The Skinny: After blowing a big lead in a loss in Memphis on Wednesday, the Blazers face what may be a near unwinnable game for them on the road against the NBA best Spurs. The Spurs are without Tony Parker but honestly injuries don’t seem to effect them much The Spurs have always been a team that excels at having a deep bench that, even if not as talented as many, certainly is coached so well it plays far above its talent level. This is Portland’s only visit to San Antonio this season.
Last Time They Met: Lillard took over late as Portland help off a late Spurs charge and give Portland the win.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-16th Season) 16.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.7 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-2nd Season)-11 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-Tiago Splitter (Brazil-3rd Season)-10.5 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.4 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-4th Season)-10.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 APG.
PG-Cory Joseph (Texas-2nd Season)-3.1 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.5 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 Spurs holding a narrow 74-73 lead in the all-time series against the Blazers.
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 – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Doubtful-SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad)
San Antonio: Out- PG Tony Parker (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating the Spurs: One Unique Pop
Coach Gregg Popovich (more commonly known as “Pop”) is unlike any other coach in the NBA. Pop is caustic, with a sense of humor all his own but a genius that is unmatched certainly by any active NBA head coach. Poppovich may not be the most media friendly coach in the NBA but he certainly gets the most out of his times, year in and year out. This is perhaps best shown by the fact that nearly every player on a Spurs roster in a given year ends up playing the key role in at least one win for them. Such of this is the superb talent evaluation of their GM but a lot of it is their coaching. When Pop retires, perhaps when Tim Duncan himself does, it will end one of the most successful coaching runs in NBA history.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play very well and get a little lucky. The Spurs are better than Portland and at home are nearly unbeatable. Portland will have to play very well and catch the Spurs on an off night to have a chance of winning.
San Antonio wins if: They play their game. The Spurs, even without Parker, are a very good team and if they play close to their normal game, it should be a routine home win for the team with the NBA’s best record.