Well, if you were expecting a close game, you got one… until about 11 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.
With the Portland Trail Blazers down by 1 and looking to take just their second lead of the series, the San Antonio Spurs rattled off an 18-2 run… in less than 4 minutes.
With the lead now at 17 in the blink of an eye, the tone for the rest of the night was set. The Blazers made a few valiant pushes, but never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way, and now find themselves in a 0-2 series hole.
There may not be a lot to analyze here: the Blazers were woeful defending the pick and roll, they missed shots at the rim, and they allowed literally 12 straight Spurs possessions that resulted in a score. Not matter how you try to spin that last one, I can almost guarantee you a game in which your team allows that will not result in a win, unless you found yourself back in the late 80s and the score was 116-121 at the end of the third quarter.
Damian Lillard (19-5-5) had another so-so game. His defense was, unfortunately, the thing that stood out most to me. It’s terrible. And not just kind of terrible, but full-blown terrible. Every time the dude tries to go around a screen, it’s like he’s trying to scale Everest. I’m not sure what training or advice he needs, but a very bad pick and roll defender going against a very good pick and roll team is a nasty combo for the Trail Blazers.
LaMarcus Aldridge (16 and 10 with a block) got into a groove a few times. Other than that, he’s facing coverage like he’s never seen before; somehow both unable to pass out of double teams AND unable to capitalize on single coverage. And we all thought the Spurs would be a better matchup for him!
Nicolas Batum (21 and 9, on 9-13 shooting) was aggressive, looking for his shot, and fully recovered from his first outing. If he plays this way while Aldridge and Lillard play closer to normal, it might be interesting even with bad defense.
Matthews had 14-7-4, and was covering Parker for much of the game. That Parker didn’t have another video game night could be attributed to Matthews’ defense, or it could be because someone other than Lillard was guarding him.
Will “The Thrill” Barton (5-5 for 13 points) played the role of Mo Williams nicely, without the turnovers or the assists. With Williams out of the game with a sore groin, Barton off the bench will be necessary moving forward.
The Blazers head home, down 0-2. The ESPN announcers said “goodnight, Blazers,” that only 16 teams in the history of the NBA have come back from 0-2, and that the series was “done.”
One of those 16 teams that came back? The 1977 Blazers. In the NBA Finals.
Let’s hope Lillard, Aldridge, and company take that to heart and carry it with them when they play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Moda Center on Saturday.