The Spurs came out with good energy in this game, building an 8-0 lead over the first three and a half minutes. The defense was tight, and Tony Parker brought his Game 7 game to this contest. The Spurs held the Blazers to their lowest scoring quarter of the postseason, forcing them to shoot a frigid 4-of-22 from the field (18.2%). Aron Baynes, to my surprise, played three minutes, grabbed three boards and scored four points in the period. CIA Pop sure is sneaky! The Spurs shot 56.5% from the floor and took a 29-16 lead into the second quarter.
Mo Williams started the game 3-for-9 and was easily the best offensive player for the Blazers to that point. Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli knocked down a couple of threes early in the second, a welcome sight for Spurs fans, and the good guys opened up a 16-point lead which forced Terry Stotts to stop the game and try to regroup just two minutes into the quarter. The Blazers picked up their game a little, but the Spurs expanded their lead to 22 five minutes later after another Belinelli triple while shooting a whooping 61.8% from the floor for the first 19 minutes of the game.
The Blazers really did play better, but it didn't matter because the Spurs continued to just completely dominate them. The Spurs went into the half up 26 with contributions from everyone. Tony led the way with 17 points and six assists. Leonard and Duncan were each in double digits on a combined 10-of-15 from the floor. Belinelli found whatever he lost over the past month and drilled three triples in the half. After 24 minutes the old, grizzled Spurs looked like they were playing a B-team and owned a 65-39 advantage over the young Blazers.
The third quarter was far more competitive, with both clubs shooting poorly. The Spurs' energy level dropped, I'm sure it's hard to sustain the kind of intensity that the Spurs had in the first half when they were up by 30. Portland cut into the lead a little, but Tony Parker converted an and-one to push the lead back up to 25. Somehow, the Blazers only had four assists over the first 36 minutes of the game. Aron Baynes scored his seventh and eighth points at the end of the third on a put-back to keep the Spurs up by 25 going into the final period.
We then had 12 minutes of garbage time. Nothing to talk about there. Tim Duncan played just 24 minutes in the contest and only Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker played more than 30, with 33 and 36 minutes played respectively.
It's just one game. The Blazers are better than how they played on Tuesday night, but the Spurs look like a much better team. Hopefully they continue their high level of play going into the second game on Thursday night, because if they play like that, they won't be beat no matter how good Portland plays.
For the perspective of the Blazers' fans check out Blazer's Edge.
Your Spurs improve to 5-3 in the postseason. The magic number is now 11.
On the value of opening the series like this
Everybody tries to win every game. You'd rather win than lose. I don't know what else to tell you. You have to handle a win the right way, you have to handle a loss the right way or it comes back to bite you. This one's over with. We'll take a look at the film and see if we can improve and go on to game two, it's a whole different animal. Every game is different, it takes on a different personality and games have to be managed differently, they're never the same.
On Aron Baynes
We wanted another big. Just because we don't want to end up overplaying Tiago, Boris, and Timmy. It gives them a little break if we can get some minutes out of Aron. He fits better against them than he did against Dallas. I thought he played well.