The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 to advance to the 2nd round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. They will face the Portland Trail Blazers, who advanced to the 2nd round by defeating the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Friday. With the Spurs’ victory, the first round is officially over. The Trail Blazers will travel to San Antonio for Game 1 of Round 2 on Tuesday.
Portland and San Antonio split the regular season series 2-2 with each team winning one at home and one on the road. Although the Spurs are the number one seed in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers have matched up reasonably well with them. I would go as far as to say that the Trail Blazers are less of an underdog in this one than they were considered to be against the Rockets.
- Both starting point guards, Damian Lillard and Tony Parker, are offensive threats and defensive liabilities.
- Both starting small forwards, Nicolas Batum and Kawhi Leonard are rounded scorers and capable rebounders.
- Both starting power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan, are fundamentally strong team leaders.
- Both starting centers, Robin Lopez and Tiago Splitter, are above average defenders that accent their frontcourt counterpart.
On paper, Portland’s biggest disadvantage will be depth. San Antonio operates so well under Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich that there is very little decline in quality of execution in the bench rotation. The Spurs are able to run Team A and Team B without giving opponents much of a break at all. Heck, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw, and Aron Baynes would make a respectable starting five in the Eastern Conference.
Fortunately, the Trail Blazers know their opponent well and can begin making plans for the coming series right away. Although Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is not quite the learned sensei that Pop is, I would not put it past him to draw up more than enough to give Pop trouble. Get ready, Rip City, we’re in for another wild ride.