Early Start Time Alert: 2:30 PM Spurs time
Last year, our beloved Spurs got swept in the regular season by precisely 3 teams. Two of them were Chicago and Utah, against whom the 2010-11 Spurs have already won games. Today, we see the last of those teams, the Portland Trailblazers. It's an early start, but The Flying Spurcus needs to be in full effect today to get our final measure of revenge for the 2009-10 squad's struggles.
The Blazers, once such a promising team, have been so decimated by injuries over the last two seasons that they are now debating whether to go younger(read: blow it up and rebuild). As many of you know, Portland is my "second" NBA team. So, while the Spurs start has been nothing short of awesome for me, another part of me hurts for what's happening to the Blazers. But make no mistake, those feelings will not cloud my judgement today - I hope the Spurs crush them.
The Spurs apparently want you guys to listen to more industrial music, so here ya go:
Let's do it.
San Antonio Spurs vs Portland Trail Blazers
Where: AT&T Center
When: 12/12/10, 2:30PM Spurs Time - Timezone Converter
Watch: FSSW, CSN NW
By the Numbers
Data source: basketball-reference.com
PG: Tony's had his struggles with Miller in the past, but Millers not as quick or athletic as he used to be, and Tony's playing his best ball ever.
SG: What a sad situation Roy's knee issues are. If he hadn't been robbed of what speed and athleticism he had over the past two seasons, he might not only be challenging Manu for the edge in this game, but he might have challenged for leafue MVP honors. Edge to The Anomaly.
SF: Matthews is another very solid wing player, and much like the Spurs, Portland treats the wing positions as interchangeable. However, RJ 2.0's size advantage should give him some good opportunities in this game. After he basically won his battle with Josh Smith on Friday, I'm not betting against him.
PF: LMA is a very good player... on offense. But Timmeh's been getting it done on both ends at a deceptively high level this year, despite the lower-than-normal scoring numbers.
C: DeJuan has looked much better lately, as compared to his struggles in the early part of the season. I'm not ready to give him the edge over Camby, but I hope he keeps bringing it.
Over the previous two seasons, Portland had one of the deepest teams in the league. But they traded away a lot of their depth over the last year, with mixed results(Babbitt is in the D-League, but Camby is as solid as ever). Batum is the 6th man, and even though he should probably start over Matthews, the Blazers have had good results with the 3-guard lineup. Meanwhile, George has been like a
stick crate pallet of dynamite off the bench lately, and Neal and the bench bigs can not only maintain leads, but blow games wide open with their great play this season.
A lot of folks were calling for Nate's head a couple weeks ago, but that talk died down after the Blazers' brass said they wouldn't dream of letting him go, and especially now that the ship appears to be righted again. But you'll never hear the media talking about Pop getting canned.
We're an amazing 4th quarter team, as was proven yet again on Friday. Getting it done when it matters is the ultimate intangible.
Props to the Blazers for winning 4 in a row. We've done the same, and have been more consistent from the start of the season.
The Spurs keep it rolling, mainly because they have to keep Dallas at bay in the division standings.
Keys to the Game
Defensive Rebounding - Portland's shooting percentages are awful, and they don't get to the line often enough to make up for it. However, they get a ton of offensive rebounds. If we can keep them off the offensive glass(easier said than done), this should be a fairly easy game to win. For the love of Manu, somebody needs to show Bonner how to box out properly.
Offensive aggressiveness - The Blazers are pretty good at defending the three ball, and also fairly good at field-goal percentage defense. Where they have the most trouble defensively is with fouls. They struggle to keep their opponents off the charity stripe. With the penetration abilities of Tony, Manu, RJ, and George, (not to mention the beastliness of DeJuan) we should be looking to take it to the hole aggressively on every possession. Not only are the free points nice, but getting their bigs in foul trouble would make it even easier to get to the rack.
48 Minutes of Hell - Seriously, read the advanced scouting report posted on gameday. It's so much better than anything I can scrape together.
Blazersedge(SB Nation) - BE gets about 5-6 times the amount of traffic that PtR does. Partly because of that(and the other part is because they're so good at it), the two guys who run it are fully credentialed media members with full access to the Blazers' players, coaches, practices, etc. If you're prone to siezures, DO NOT attempt to keep up with their game threads - they're off the charts, even compared to ours.
Bustabucket - I quite simply love this blog.
This game will be aired on Fox Sports Southwest in San Antonio, and CSN NW in the Northwest. NBA League Pass will be airing the game as well.
WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[streaming]
As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.
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. You can also shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org(IMPORTANT: Please include your PtR username in the email for reference) for further assistance.