Scouting the Trail Blazers: Limiting Hickson, Crawford, Batum key for Spurs

It’s the final home game of the regular season for the San Antonio Spurs (47-16) as they try to finish JHwith only five losses in the AT&T Center, while also looking to push their seven-game winning streak up to eight.

The Spurs will be hosting the Portland Trail Blazers, who are looking to end their five game losing streak. Being on the road doesn’t help the Blazers, as they hold an 8-23 road record, and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Blazers haven’t meshed well chemistry-wise this season after hoping for a promising season. Former head coach Nate McMillan was fired during the season, several players were traded or almost traded, and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge went down with a season ending right hip injury early in the month of April.

The Spurs are full healthy and are one win away from wrapping up the number one seed in the Western Conference. Head coach Gregg Popovich will be monitoring minutes these last three games as he chose to sit Tim Duncan in the Spurs’ win over the Cleveland Cavalier on Sunday.

The expectation is that either Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili, or possibly both players will be rested tonight against the Trail Blazers, and the substitutions of key players will carry on throughout the week until the playoffs begin.

The Trail Blazers have been using an unusual approach to their final games. They’ve been resting Jamal Crawford one game, then resting Nicolas Batum the following game for an unknown reason according to our friends at Pinwheel Empire. For a team that isn’t going to make the playoffs, it’s an odd substitution pattern to end the season. 

Whose streak will end tonight, the Spurs or the Blazers?

Case No. 64: Portland Trail Blazers (28-36)

Scorers

J.J. Hickson – 14.9 points (11.2 FGA), Jamal Crawford – 14 points (12.3 FGA), Nicolas Batum – 13.9 points (10.9 FGA), Wesley Matthews – 13.5 points (11.3 FGA), Raymond Felton – 11.4 points (10.6 FGA). Hickson and Batum/Crawford are the two focal points of the Blazers’ offense, if the Spurs can limit the two of them, then they’ll be in the drivers seat throughout the game.

Shooting/Posting High Percentages

J.J. Hickson (55%), Craig Smith (51%)

Three-Point marks men

Wesley Matthews (5 x 3PT FGA – 38%), Nicolas Batum (4.6 x 3PT FGA – 39%), Jamal Crawford (4.3 x 3PT FGA – 31%), Raymond Felton (3.4 x 3PT FGA – 30%), Luke Babbit (2.4 x 3PT FGA – 46%)

Gets to the free throw line

J.J. Hickson (4 FTA – 66%), Jamal Crawford (3.4 FTA – 93%)

Enforcers in the paint

J.J. Hickson (8.2 rebounds), Nicolas Batum (4.6 rebounds)

Passers

Raymond Felton (6.5 assists)

Stealers

Wesley Matthews (1.4 steals), Raymond Felton (1.3 steals), Nicolas Batum (1 steal)

Denying the Rim

Nicolas Batum (1 block)

Offense vs. Offense

  • 1. Points: Spurs (103.2) – Trail Blazers (97.4) = Spurs
  • 2. Assists: Spurs (22.9) – Trail Blazers  (20.4) = Spurs
  • 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (47.6%) – Trail Blazers  (44.4%) = Spurs
  • 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (39.3%) – Trail Blazers  (34.8%) = Spurs
  • 5. Turnovers: Spurs (13.1) – Trail Blazers (13.8) = Spurs

Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-0

Defense vs. Defense

  • 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96.4) – Trail Blazers  (97.4) = SpursJC
  • 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Trail Blazers  (46%) = Spurs
  • 3. Opponent 3PT shooting: Spurs (35%) – Trail Blazers  (36%) = Spurs
  • 4. Rebounds: Spurs (42.7) – Trail Blazers  (40.8) = Spurs
  • 5. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.4) – Trail Blazers  (19) = Spurs

Defensive Leader: Spurs 5-0

Game Expectation

Depending on which lineups the Spurs use, they shouldn’t have much problem scoring on the smaller Blazers, so long as they continue to push the pace, and pass the ball efficiently on offense.

Defensively the Blazers present very little mismatches, the Spurs should be able to make any adjustments against the Blazers throughout the course of the game. Even with some members of the Spurs’ “big three” or other players resting, the team should still have enough depth to finish this last home season game.

Consistency isn’t a fluke. There’s a reason the Blazers have lost five in a row, and there’s a reason the Spurs have won eight in a row, even without some of their key players.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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