Another big test
The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off their first home loss of the year against the Los Angeles Clippers, but a win against the San Antonio Spurs would help the team get back on track, and back to .500.
Matchup: Portland (2-3) vs. San Antonio Spurs (5-1)
Venue: Rose Garden Arena
Time: 10:00 PM PT
Date: Nov. 10, 2012
The Blazers have been tested by quality opponents early, but once this game comes to an end, the schedule will begin to ease up a bit heading into the foreseeable future.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
Despite the notion that the Blazers want to get out and run, they’re fairly middle-of-the-road when it comes to up-tempo style. San Antonio, on other hand, has no mystery about them, as they run the third-slowest pace in the NBA this season.
Defensively, these two teams are about as far apart as it gets. The Spurs are the seventh-best team in points allowed, while the Blazers are the fifth-worst.
The Spurs also have one of the most proven coaches in the entire NBA on their sideline, while the Blazers have a brand new leader who hasn’t shown he can win in the past.
On paper, this game belongs to San Antonio, but you never know what a young, energetic team can pull off against an older, slower unit.
That’s why they play the game, isn’t it?
What to Watch: Portland
Without sounding like a broken record just five games into the season, the Trail Blazers need more bench production.
Portland has the worst second unit in all of basketball. They don’t score, they don’t rebound and they don’t provide the kind of energy needed to play at the pace Portland runs.
The Spurs are a deep team, and if the Blazers’ backups can’t play well enough to rest the first five, San Antonio is going to take advantage of incompetent reserves early, and tired starters late.
What to Watch: San Antonio
The Spurs certainly have the talent and personnel to run teams out of the gym, but at this point in the season, they’re playing an extremely slow brand of basketball. If San Antonio can control the pace of this game, they’re going to have the edge from start to finish.
Taking that kind of control away is going to be tough for a young Portland roster. The Spurs are a group full of veterans, and if they want to slow down the game, very few teams are capable of tricking them into playing a frantic run-and-gun style.
The Blazers need to come out and play their game regardless of how the Spurs run theirs. If they can remain on the attack for an entire 48 minutes. they’ll have a better chance of scoring in transition against a tough San Antonio defense.
Tim Duncan has certainly lost a step over the past few years, but his production so far this season has made him look as if he’s 10 years younger.
The Spurs’ big man is averaging 22.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and three blocks through six games. He is the apparent leader of San Antonio’s team, and he is going to provide a good challenge for LaMarcus Aldridge.
LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t putting up quite the numbers that Duncan is, but he is just as important—if not more important—to his team’s success. Aldridge is the Blazers’ go-to option on offense, and these two will create for one heck of a matchup come Saturday night.
The point guard battle is also going to be fun to watch, as Tony Parker will provide another veteran challenge for rookie point guard Damian Lillard.
Portland: OUT—Elliot Williams
San Antonio: N/A
The Trail Blazers had trouble scoring at times against the Clippers—a a subpar defensive squad—so it’s tough to imagine Portland having an easier time against the Spurs on Saturday.