Team Records: Portland (28-36) at San Antonio (47-16)
Game Info: 5:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game.
Vegas Line: SA -13.5.
Refs: Mike Callahan, Kevin Cutler, Eric Lewis.
The Skinny: The Blazers play their next to last game of the year in San Antonio vs. a Spurs team that can clinch the #1 seed out west for the second straight year with a win Monday night. The Spurs come in off a fairly easy win in Cleveland and have been nearly untouchable lately. San Antonio has won seven in a row and eighteen of their last twenty.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers routed the Spurs backups as they rested their top players in Portland’s final game before the all-star break. The Blazers scored 137 points, the most they’ve scored this season and had six players score 16 or more, the first time that has happened since 1992.
Projected Spurs Lineup:
PF-Tim Duncan (Wake Forest-15th Season) 15.4 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.3 APG.
SF-Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State-Rookie)-7.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.1 APG.
C-DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh-3rd Season)-9.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG
SG-Danny Green (North Carolina-3rd Season)-9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG.
PG-Tony Parker (France-11th Season)-18.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.7 APG.
Player to Watch-Danny Green (Pictured at right)-You can be virtually sure that when the Spurs pick up a player no one has spoken highly of before, its not a mistake. The Spurs have this amazing ability to find diamonds in the rough and Danny Green is their latest such find. Green is a solid outside shooter and a decent rebounder for a player his size. As is essential for every Spurs player, he is a fundamentally sound defender as well, rarely being caught out of position. He’s not particularly strong or particularly fast but he’ll get the job done and works well within the system the Spurs have in place.
Did You Know?: Danny Green is the only Spurs player to play in all 63 games this season. The Spurs have used 13 different starting lineups this season.
Song of the Day: “Drift Away” by Mentor Williams-Many Blazer fans hope memories of this season can drift away as fast as possible. Maybe this song can help Thursday get there faster. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Hip), PG Raymond Felton (Ankle), Questionable-C-Joel Przybilla (Bronchitis), SG Jamal Crawford (Ankle), SF Nicolas Batum (Quad).
San Antonio: None.
Re-Evaluating the Spurs: A Rebirth for Discarded Talent
Just a month ago the Spurs picked up three players who has been cast aside by other teams via the waiver wire. The first, Patty Mills, just wasn’t going to be a fit for Portland and in the Spurs’s system has had a decent if short season following his short overseas career in China. The second, Boris Diaw, was cast aside by the league’s worst team, Charlotte, and is playing a solid if small role off the bench. The third player the Spurs picked up was someone they know from their 2002-03 NBA championship squad, Steven Jackson, the moody scorer who had fallen completely out of favor with the Bucks. Jackson has been okay at best overall but has had some spurts of offensive output just when the Spurs needed them. As noted above, the Spurs seemingly have a midas touch when it comes to picking players and these three are but the latest example of that trend.
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 Monday if Portland wants to come out with a win.
San Antonio wins if: They outrebound Portland. The Spurs are only an average rebounding team, ranked 12th in the NBA. 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 secure the #1 seed in the west with a win Monday night.