Blazers: 28-36 (4th Northwest Division)
Spurs: 47-16 (1st Southwest Division)
Game Details: AT&T Center San Antonio, TX 5:30 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: 750 AM (KXTG)
Projected Blazer Starting Lineup: PG Nolan Smith (#2, 6′2”, Duke), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5”, Marquette), SF Luke Babbitt (#8, 6’9″, Nevad-Reno), PF J.J. Hickson (#21, 6’9”, North Carolina State), C Hasheem Thabeet (#34, 7’3”, Connecticut)
Projected Spurs Starting Lineup: PG Tony Parker (#9, 6’2”, Paris BR, France), SG Danny Green (#4, 6’6”, North Carolina), SF Kawhi Leonard (#2, 6’7”, San Diego State), PF Boris Diaw (#33, 6’8”, Pau Orthez, France), C DeJuan Blair (#45, 6’7”, Pittsburgh)
If the NBA were a place where losing teams and their fans were let down easy, the Blazers would be exempt from having to play good teams to close out the season. As we all know, the NBA is not that place. In fact, it is the opposite of that place.
Monday evening (PST), the Blazers, losers of five in a row and seven of the last eight, have the unfortunate task of facing the Spurs in San Antonio, winners of 18 of their last 20 and seven straight.
The last time these two teams met, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made the decision to sit his principal guys, and Portland won by 40. Since that time, the Spurs have added a couple of dudes that were rotting in the NBA’s basement (Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw), and have vaulted the Oklahoma City Thunder into the number one spot in the Western Conference.
I would say there’s a chance that Pop sits his starters again. His team is a game and a half up on OKC with two games on the road following their match-up with Portland; two games against non-Playoff participants. This time, should that happen, it’s unlikely the Blazers will be victorious.
Back when Portland blasted the Spurs at home their starting five for the home team was Gerald Wallace, Jamal Crawford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Marcus Camby. As we all know Wallace and Camby are now members of other lottery bound teams, LaMarcus and Nicolas are shut down and pretty much shut down respectively, and Jamal Crawford is back to coming off the bench. It’s basically a completely different Portland team from the one that took the court February 21st.
Here’s the thing, though, if I had to put money on what coach Pop decides to do RE: his lineup for Monday, I would put all my money on him playing his main guys. Right now, the Spurs are a game or maybe two from locking up the number one seed in the West, but they’re also one win behind Chicago for best record in the league. Best record in the NBA means home court in the Finals. That’s where this Spurs team is probably going to end up.
As much as San Antonio talks about winning in the post season being so important that losing one game in the regular season in an effort to save their elderly players can be excused, I get the feeling that dropping a home game to the Blazers is not something they’d be super psyched about.
So here’s my suggestion for Portland if they want to have a chance to steal one from the possible (or probable) winners of the Western Conference. Grab one or two guys during pregame shoot around and send them over to Gregg Popovich’s house. Arm those guys with pocket knives or box cutters or something small and sharp. Have them break into coach Pop’s attic, find the team photo of the naturally aged 02-03 San Antonio Spurs that he no doubt has hanging on the wall, and then use those box cutters, knives, etc. to destroy this photo, turning the 11-12 San Antonio Spurs into the old and busted NBAers that they probably should be. (If you don’t get the lengthy reference read this, this, or this.)
Here’s one thing to watch for:
- Patty Mills: Patty Mills was once the favorite of Blazer fans everywhere. Due to the lockout and other stuff like that, he ended up in China, then back in the NBA but not under contract with the Blazers. Patty was picked up by the Spurs not too long ago, and now has the best chance of any former Trail Blazer to snag an NBA Championship (although I would say James Jones might actually have that distinction). In 13 games, Patty has averaged slightly more than 13 minutes a game, and has been relatively consistent. There’s a good chance that the Spurs will be leading Monday by upwards of 30 by halftime, so Patty should get plenty of run. Patty Mills vs. Jonny Flynn will no doubt have the pro-Patty Twitterers if not up in arms than at the very least very up.
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