Game Preview #26: Portland Trailblazers @ San Antonio Spurs - War of Attrition

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This time, it's in our house. Let's get a W for Christmas.

Everyone here probably knows by now that the Blazers are my second favorite NBA team. This year the basketball gods have not been kind to me, with both of my teams failing to meet the lofty expectations set by their respective fanbases. The Blazers even seem to be cursed, as they have six players injured, and even owner Paul Allen has fallen victim of the hex, since he was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier in the season. [After I wrote this, Joel Przybilla also went down with a knee injury in the game against Dallas] The Blazer fan in me says WHAT. THE. F*%@. At least they'll get good draft position, I guess. Spurs fans, count your blessings.

So, now that the Debbie Downer part is over, let's preview this game, shall we?

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Portland Trail Blazers @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
When: December 23, 2009, 7:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: KRRT 35 (San Antonio); CSN(Oregon/Washington)

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How They Stack Up
12-4 Home 10-4
3-6 Road 7-8
101.9
Offense 96.4
96.8 Defense 92.7
47.8 FG% 45.2
38.9
3-pt% 35.8
74.0
FT% 78.2
42.6
Rebounds 43.2
14.3
TOs 14.0
6-4 Last 10 5-5
Won 3
Streak Won 1
2nd, Southwest(tie) Position 2nd, Northwest

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 10:30 PM
West Coast
5:30 PM
Philippines 9:30 AM
Central Europe 2:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 3:30 AM
East Coast 8:30 PM
Libertaria
6:30 PM
Perth, AUS 9:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 10:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 11:30 AM

Spurs
(15-10)
Matchups

Blazers
(18-12)

Tony Parker
Baguette!

Point Guard

Tony finally bounced back from whatever was holding him down in our last game, and let's hope we see some more of that tonight. Miller's a smart player, good distributor, and historically gives Tony problems, so I still say this is close. Miller's had some struggles this season, most notably learning to play alongside a 2-guard that dominates the ball even more than he does. Steve Blake is probably going to be used as a 2 guard in the absence of Rudy Fernandez, but Miller's new backup is pretty dangerous, too.

Advantage: Spurs


Andre Miller
Looking Over His Shoulder

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Keith Bogans
DOOM

Shooting Guard

Bogans has scored in double digits for 3 straight games, on great shooting. He's also been doing his thing on defense, like he always does. Come to think of it, Keith earned his starting job against the Blazers, by making Roy work hard from the start. He's got his work cut out for him again. Even though Brandon's numbers are down ever so slightly from last season, he's incredibly dangerous, and Keith needs to stick to him like glue. Roy will get his, but if Keith makes him work really hard for it, that should pay dividends for us on the other end of the floor.

Advantage: Blazers


Brandon Roy
Alpha Dog Complex

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Richard Jefferson
???

Small Forward

RJ's been a real enigma, but he's definitely playing better than he was prior to the last 7 games. He's been scoring in double figures for 6 of those games, and he's more involved on defense. I'd still like him to attack consistently throughout the game, because he's done very well when he's aggressive. Webster is a solid threat at both ends of the floor, and has been a bit more consistent for the Blazers. If RJ can channel his aggressive side for more than a few possessions, this will easily be in his favor. Somehow, I'm not convinced he will.

Advantage: Neither


Martell Webster
Solid Player

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Tim Duncan
20/10

Power Forward

In case you didn't know, Timmy always gets the white box. This season, he's as good as ever, and nobody's been able to stop him. I like Aldridge, and he has all the physical tools to be a dominant PF. In fact, he's already one of the top PF's in the West, but he's not Timmy and never will be.

Advantage: Spurs


LaMarcus Aldridge
Athlete

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DeJuan Blair
The Beast

Center

Blair has gone back to the starting lineup, displacing Antonio McDyess. I was going to give Przybilla the advantage here, but after his injury, the Blazers now don't have a real center. Howard is my best guess for the starter in Oden/Przybilla's place. Jeff Pendergraph and Anthony Tolliver(yes, that one) should also see playing time. But, there's really nobody good enough to oppose Blair now.

Advantage: Spurs


Juwan Howard
Not a Center

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George Hill
Leader of the BAM

Bench & Role Players

Remember when we all wanted Pop to free George Hill for being chained to the bench? Well, there's been a similar movement amongst Blazer fans for the better part of 2 years, who wanted Bayless to break free of his bench bondage. He's been freed, and he's a pretty good weapon. I saw him tear up the Spurs at summer league, and that was no fluke. That said, Portland's depth is really hurting from the injuries - the BAM still takes this one, even without Bonner and Fin.

Advantage: Spurs


Jerryd Bayless
Tony 0.9

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Gregg Popovich
Great Coach

Coach

Nate's been doing a great job, if somewhat unheralded, for several years. Both of these guys are having to deal with chemistry issues among some new additions, but Nate's job is made much harder by the injuries. Lots of respect for Nate, but Pop is still the best X's and O's guy in the league.

Advantage: Spurs


Nate McMillan
Good Coach
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

Injuries and rest are in our favor, for once.

Advantage: Spurs

Mojo

Neither of these teams are meeting expectations, so nobody really has the mojo.

Advantage: Neither

Winner

The Spurs should be ready for this one, and I'm betting they're ready to avenge the loss they suffered in PDX last month. The Blazers are like a wounded animal now, and they'll be bringing the intensity. Something in my gut tells me that the Spurs are going to bring it, too... and finally make us believe again.
Prediction: Spurs win.

Keys To The Game

  • Defensive Rebounding - The Spurs are the #2 team in the league(behind Memphis) in rebounding differential, but let the Clips get on the offensive boards the other night. Guess who the #3 rebounding team is? Portland. We must keep them off the offensive glass.
  • Points in the Paint - Without Oden [or Przybilla, now] plugging up the middle, Portland's interior defense is slightly more vulnerable to attack.
  • Bench Play - Our bench is our biggest advantage over most teams, and the depleted Blazers are no exception. George, Manu, Antonio, and the rest of the BAM need to launch a full assault on the Blazers during their minutes.

Strength of Schedule

We've had a day off since the win over the Clips, and will have another two days off before heading to Milwaukee to take on our least favorite Eastern Conference opponent. The schedule still gives us no excuses for a while

The Blazers are on a SEGABABA, after getting a nice W last night in Dallas. After tonight, the Blazers head home, where they'll take on the Nuggets in a Christmas day game.

Last Time They Met

The last time we met the Blazers was in the 5th game of the season, where we got our asses handed to us by Greg Oden and crew, 96-84. Let's hope the lack of frontcourt depth for Portland works in our favor this time. RJ kicked ass for us in that game - more of that would be great, as long as some other folks get involved for us as well.

Some Other Reading

Blazers

Blazersedge - Here you'll find one of the busiest hoops blogs on SBN, including the most insane comment rate on game threads that you will ever find. Good luck keeping up with these guys, they're experts.
Bustabucket - This one's a lot easier to follow, I promise. The Blazers' Bloguin affiliate is very aesthetically pleasing, and I love their previews - check it out.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Best damn TrueHoop affiliate out there. Always a must visit Spurs site. Tim V and Graydon seem to be less active there lately, but unlike us, I think they have lives.
Project Spurs: Features live chats, call-in shows and podcasts, with lots of content. Give 'em a try.

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired on My35 in San Antonio, and on Comcast Sports Network in the Portland area. Why this isn't nationally televised, I don't know. If you have cable or satellite, you'll have to look up your individual channel. And of course, there's always League Pass for the haves. For the have nots, read on.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Most Spurs games will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. This game is no exception.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

NBA League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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