Blazers/Spurs Pre-Thoughts


We’re diving right into it today people. There is no need for a lengthy talking about the Spurs. You know what they bring to the table. Year after year they just keep doing the same thing. Foolish people drop the ‘Are the Spurs falling off?’ and before you can blink they’re back up at the top of the Western Conference. This is the definition of a well-oiled machine. Of course this San Antonio team will be without Manu and Tim Duncan, who just got ruled out with “right quad tendonosis” which I have actually had and is just a really weird injury. That gives us a nice amount of hope and on paper we more than likely should be favored. There is a reason that games are not played on paper though. You’re probably wondering where my enthusiasm is…I always have a bad feeling playing at San Antonio. And last I checked…this game is still being played in San Antonio. A brief refresher for everyone out there…Portland has had what I like to call… you say….oh, I got it… the OPPOSITE of success in San Antonio. We’ve lost 13 of 14 in that building. That’s the bad news. Even more bad news? This is another team that brushes injuries off like Jay-Z used to brush his shoulders. Seemingly as long as they have one of the three going they can beat you.

The good news: this Spurs team is vulnerable. Even with Duncan in the line-up they were vulnerable. Tonight could very well be the perfect storm for a streak to die, and you all know to turn things around toward the contender end of things you have to end some streaks.

The leader for the Spurs tonight is going to be Tony Parker. I haven’t even gotten to the keys of the game but the #1 key will involve Tony Parker. On the low, Mr. Eva is having a career year with career highs in points (20.3) and assists (6.6). He will be carrying the load and running the pick and roll to death. Outside of perhaps Bayless we don’t really have anyone who can come close to keeping him in front so it will take a team effort. But therein lies the strength of the Spurs. Everyone knows their role, everyone plays their role and they play such great team basketball. It’s annoying how well they play the game. Michael Finley, Roger Mason and Matt Bonner stroke the three very well. Bowen will drop a corner three. Kurt Thomas bangs and cash that mid-range. Oberto, George Hill, Udoka and Oberto may not intimidate but a) they execute excellently and b) they play great team defense. The Spurs may not score much with that lineup but…well..neither are you. They know how to hassle great players into rough nights. You might score but you’re going to need a lot more attempts than usual. Look up the box scores of the past few games. Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jamison, Caron Butler, Iverson…all had rough nights.

Keys to the game:

  • Make Tony Parker be a scorer or a distributor. The key word is or. Tonight he cannot be both. I have no doubt he’s going to get his points because a) we don’t have much to throw at him and b) he’s the main cog of their offense. The man put up 32 shots against Dallas last game…as my uncle would say…that boy be gunning. In Portland we allowed Parker to get 24 points and 10 assists. Tonight the Blazers cannot afford to let Parker score and distrubute. When Parker gets a double-double in points and assists the Spurs are 7-2. As a matter of fact when Parker throws 7+ assists the Spurs are 20-4. The reason why I said ‘or’ instead of don’t let Parker distrubute is because I will do cartwheels if we hold Parker under 18. I’ll gladly take it. But I’ll definitely take him scoring and not getting his assists. The Spurs don’t have anyone else who can really create their own shot so there is big, huge, glowing, tramp stamp like bullseye on Mr. Eva tonight.
  • Execute for 48 minutes. This game is going to come down to execution. Over the past couple years the story in San Antonio has been Portland competing for a while but eventually struggling to execute. This led to San Antonio making the big plays during ‘Winning Time’ and coming out with a W. It’s going to be the same story tonight even without Timmy in the lineup. Portland is still going to have to go out and win this game. Pretty soon they are going to have to show an ability to put together a full 48. Why not tonight? You have to be sharp offensively and defensively against San Antonio for the entire game. It’s an absolute must.
  • No second scoring option. This is important. Cannot let someone get going early and get their confidence going to compliment Parker. Because essentially if they’ve got two guys going offensively hey are just as dangerous as ever. No letting 4 Spurs get in double figures. No letting Finley, Mason or Bonner get 20. Contain everyone and it will make life a lot easier. Mason for some reason scares me because of his lack of fear to take any shot. Finley could have flashbacks and Matt Bonner…well…he just seems like he’ll be involved in one of those “Classic Spur three pointers that push a lead from 2 to 5 or from 5 to 8 and get the crowd going”
  • Believe you can win. The past couple years in SA Portland has hoped to compete. The talent and tools are there, but is the belief? Do the Blazers believe they can beat the Spurs? Will that hunger, will that swagger be there tonight? It needs to be.

A big game tonight. At best we get a huge win at San Antonio. At the very worse we know we’ll learn a lot about where this team is at right now.