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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers

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The Spurs welcome those pesky Portland Trail Blazers into town for the third matchup of the year between the two teams. With a healthier squad this time around, can San Antonio find a way to contain one of the NBA's toughest one-two punches? Perhaps more importantly, can they just keep this one to 48 minutes?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
January 16, 2015, 7:30 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

No duo in the NBA puts the ball in the basket better than the Blazers' Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. At just over 45 points a game combined, the two Blazers are a handful for any team in the league, and a big reason why Portland continues to hold onto a top-two spot in the Wild West.

The Blazers are a slightly deeper team this year: they've been able to roll with more starting lineup combinations; Chris Kaman has filled in well in Robin Lopez's absence, and other guys have stepped up to compensate for Nic Batum's dip in production. Still, the dependence on the two studs remains the same: 40% of all the field-goal attempts this season have been hoisted up by those two, and they continue to play heavy minutes.

Because of that, the scouting report remains the same: the Spurs will do what they can to make Lillard and Aldridge work for their shots. With two guys that are arguably top-five at their respective positions, there's always going to be some finger-crossing whenever they let shots fly -- even if they're contested.

The last game between the Spurs and Blazers was San Antonio's second triple-overtime slogfest in a row, in which Lillard took over in the final period to finish with 43 points. Both teams were shorthanded back then, and, while Robin Lopez remains out for Portland, the Spurs could see the return of Kawhi Leonard, who's been out since December 15th with a hand injury.

If he suits up and is no longer bothered by that hand, this will be a much different team that the ones the Spurs have fielded against Portland so far. The Big Three sat out in the first matchup, while Leonard and Tony Parker were both absent from the next. Whi is so important to how the Spurs match up against teams; I don't expect his shot to be on point, but his rebounding and defense could be the difference in helping San Antonio get its first regular-season win against Portland.

Matchup to watch: Tony Parker vs. Damian Lillard. Lillard will likely take Tony's place on as one of the West's All-Star point guards this year. With Tony having missed the first two games between the two teams, I'll look to see how his presence impacts this game and pushes Lillard to play harder on the other side of the floor.

vs.

Portland Trail Blazers (30-9)

San Antonio Spurs (24-16)

January 16, 2015

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

7:30 p.m. CST

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Damian Lillard

PG

Tony Parker

Wesley Matthews

SG

Danny Green

Nicolas Batum

SF

Kawhi Leonard

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Tiago Splitter

Chris Kaman

C

Tim Duncan


Game prediction: Spurs by one.

For the Trail Blazers' perspective, visit Blazer's Edge.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com