These teams met in the 1990 Western Conference Semi-Finals in what turned out to be a hotly contested back-and-forth 7 game series with each team dominating on their home floor. The Blazers won and went on to the Finals where they eventually lost to the Bad Boys of Detroit in 5 games.
Today's Spurs are very similar to that Blazers team. While the Blazers didn't have the recent success that the Spurs have enjoyed, they did have a long string of playoff appearances up until then (only missing the playoffs once in 13 years since winning the 1977 title). Also, the team was well-balanced (a highly rated offense and defense) and well-coached by Rick Adelman - a disciple of the great Jack Ramsay. Also, coincidentally, the Blazers dispatched the Mavericks in the first round.
Today's Blazers also resemble the Spurs of 1990. The Spurs were loaded with talent and were the up-and-coming firebrand of the NBA having just swept a veteran Nuggets team out of the first round. They had a young coach in Larry Brown (for whom Popovich was an assistant) and were still trying to find their identity. They had a tremendously efficient offense and a relatively porous defense. With little bench production, this team relied heavily on their starters to put in big minutes. (Sound familiar?)
1990 Blazers -- 2014 Spurs
PG - Terry Porter -- Tony Parker - TP. This comparison is easy. Both can finish at the rim and are aggressive scorers with strong mid-range games. Parker may be faster but Porter was better from distance. The irony here is that as Porter was finishing his career in SA, the rookie Parker took his starting role on the team. Porter also said that Parker reminded him of his younger self.
SG - Clyde Drexler -- Manu Ginobili - We all know Ginobili is a starter on the bench. Both of these crafty veterans have a flair for the highlight reel. Depending on who you ask, both players can be described as "Jordan-esque". Drexler was a bit more in his prime at this point but that's splitting hairs. These players are similar in many ways.
SF - Jerome Kersey -- Kawhi Leonard - A fair comparison. Kersey was a tough-minded if soft-spoken athlete from a small college who was overlooked by most teams. He came in 2nd behind Jordan in a slam dunk competition and was coming into his own on a Blazers team that valued his aggressiveness and tenacity. He was also developing a deadly mid-range game and post-up skills.
PF - Buck Williams -- Tim Duncan - This isn't really a fair comparison but considering where Duncan is in his career, it makes more sense. Buck was a 3-time all-star with the Nets and was the veteran of the Blazers core unit. He helped anchor the defense and was a strong rebounder.
C - Kevin Duckworth -- Tiago Splitter - While Tiago might be considered slightly more talented, 'Duck' was a big presence for the Blazers defense and could score in several ways.
1990 Spurs -- 2014 Blazers
PG - Rod Strickland -- Damian Lillard - Not quite even here, but Strickland was a young point guard with confidence bursting at the seams. While not as talented as Lillard, he was known for being aggressive and scoring in bunches. He had strong scoring abilities and a burgeoning passing game.
SG - Willie Anderson -- Wesley Matthews - These players actually match based on Similarity Scores. Willie was a track athlete of a basketball player and was known for never getting tired. He had a lot of length which could frustrate teams and could score on sheer athleticism. He loved to get loose and run the court and could be relied upon for a timely shot from almost anywhere on the court.
SF - Sean Elliott -- Nicolas Batum - Sean was a cagey rookie with a fantastic outside shot and a quick first step. Batum might be more physical, but Elliott had a better outside shot and still had the length and athleticism to frustrate an opponent. A strong finisher, Sean could take most defenders off the dribble and made intelligent passes.
PF - Terry Cummings -- Robin Lopez - Yes, the positions are incorrect but I couldn't resist the comparison below. TC was an extremely good rebounder and a crafty scorer. Robin may not have the scoring ability, but he makes up for it in his defensive skills. They are both good rebounders with TC basically being a sort of "poor man's" Karl Malone. TC definitely provided stability on both ends of the court back in those days. Lopez can be that anchor as well.
C - David Robinson -- LaMarcus Aldridge - LMA may be older but Robinson was 24 at this point despite being a rookie and was extremely polished physically. Robinson was more talented but definitely not as well-rounded yet. Both have a good mid-range game and post skills. Robinson was a bit more of a freak and much stronger defensively but LMA might be a little more aggressive. I could have easily compared LMA to Terry Cummings, but that's just not as exciting.
That's my comparison folks. What do you think? Did I miss any obvious similarities/ironies? Keep in mind, that I've been a Spurs fan my whole life but I've always followed the entire NBA so I know a thing or two. I tried to make this as unbiased as possible but if I missed the mark, let me know in the comments. Thanks!