Game 24 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs

Blazers: 12-11

Spurs: 19-3

Game Details: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX. 12:30 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM)

Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6′2″, Utah), SG Brandon Roy (#7, 6′6″, Washington), SF Wesley Matthews (#2, 6′5″, Marquette), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6′11″, Texas), C Marcus Camby (#23, 6′11″, UMass)

Projected San Antonio Starting Lineup: PG Tony Parker (#9, 6’2″, France), SG Manu Ginobili (#20, 6’6″, Argentina), SF Richard Jefferson (#24, 6’7″, Arizona), PF Tim Duncan (#21, 6’11”, Wake Forest), C DeJuan Blair (#45, 6’7″, Pittsburgh)

San Antonio is always good, but nobody expected them to be this good this season. At 11-3, the Spurs boast the best record in the NBA and are, like Portland, currently riding a four-game winning streak. Their record is somewhat surprising given the age of their franchise players, but make no mistake, this is one of the deepest teams in the league and one of the toughest matchups Portland will face all year.

After somewhat of a down year last year, Manu Ginobili is having a terrific season so far, leading the team in scoring with 20 per game. Richard Jefferson is finally coming alive this season after seeming like something of a bust last year. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are as steady as ever, and second-year player DeJuan Blair is blossoming as the team’s starting center. But as good as their starting lineup is, their bench is just as capable of killing you. Gregg Popovich plays one of the deepest rotations in the league, and is rewarded with solid contributions from a variety of players including Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, George Hill, and Matt Bonner.

The Blazers’ starting lineup seems to finally be gelling with Wesley Matthews in the small-forward spot, but they will not be able to beat this team alone. Given the depth and balance of San Antonio’s bench, the Blazer reserves need to step up. They were more or less uniformly atrocious against Phoenix on Friday night, which can be somewhat excused by the whole second-night-of-a-home-and-away back-to-back thing. But if they don’t contribute today, the Blazers have virtually no chance of winning. Joel Przybilla missed Friday’s game for family reasons, and his presence tonight will be huge as Portland will need all the help in the middle they can get. Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum need their three-pointers to fall to keep up with the sharpshooting Bonner. Patty Mills will probably get significant minutes against the Spurs’ reserves today, and should continue his solid play from the past week. This is going to be an all-hands-on-deck type of game. If the Blazers can pull out a win, it might be the most satisfying of the year given the opponent.

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