Project Spurs staff and local media members are taking their best shot at predicting the Spurs’ Western Conference Semifinals series
The Spurs survived a surprisingly tough test against the Dallas Mavericks and with their blow out win in Game 7, it seems they have finally found their playoff footing. From the best defense in the first half to the high-powered offense it looks like the Spurs are back. I believe that if you combined that with the experience of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili – the Spurs win the series. Portland has not been in the second round since 2000 – that is 14 years. This core group of Blazers can score, but if San Antonio can step it up defensively, they win the series. Prediction: Spurs in 6
David Chancellor, News 4 WOAI
The unpredictable West means expect anything in Sours Blazers. If SA needed 7 to beat Dallas they might need 8 or 9 to beat Portland. Since that won’t happen go with Spurs in much closer game 7 at home.
Michael De Leon
The Blazers have always matched up exceptionally well against the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge is the thing Spurs nightmares are made of. Damian Lillard will equally be a headache. If the Spurs want to win, they need to find a way to get extra possessions and limit Portland’s. Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan will have to be aggressive against one of the best rebounding teams in the league. It’ll be a competitive series, but in the end, coaching and the Blazers’ depth may have the Spurs going onto the Western Conference Finals. Spurs in 7.
Chris Duel, TalkNowSA
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The Portland Trail Blazers can do everything the Mavericks did to the Spurs offensively and defensively – only better. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are dangerous and peaking at the right time. The Spurs must have more production from their second unit. Marco Belinelli cannot be the non-factor he was in the first round. Tony Parker is the key to the Spurs success in the series. Will his sore ankle endure 30+ minutes of high octane basketball every other night? Will Pop roll other players onto Lillard defensively to reduce the wear and tear on Parker? I foresee a heart-stopping series that goes the distance. A seventh game in our house with the Spurs big game experience would be an advantage for the good guys. Spurs in 7.
Spurs in 7. After a grueling 7-game series against the Mavs, things do not get any easier for San Antonio. Portland has given the Spurs fit for the past few years. Portland has amounted a 14-7 record against San Antonio, the best record in the NBA against the Spurs from 2008-14 and with LaMarcus Aldridge averaging 29.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in the opening round versus Houston and Damian Lillard scoring 20-plus points in all four games against the Spurs this season, the Spurs will have their hands full. It will come down to the Spurs’ deep bench and the overwhelming coaching edge the Spurs have over Portland.
Spurs in 6. Though Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are expected to each have a great series, I see the Blazers’ lack of depth on the bench as a key difference in the series. Tiago Splitter showed growth in defending post-players (especially Dirk Nowitzki), and the Spurs still have Boris Diaw to throw at Aldridge. On the perimeter, though Tony Parker and Patty Mills shared a bulk of minutes guarding Lillard during the regular season, I can see Coach Popovich giving Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard the assignment at different times during the series.
Spurs in 6. Tiago Splitter proved his worth against Dirk in the first round and that should give him confidence against Aldridge. The Blazers are a tough cover, but the Spurs are better matched up this series than they were against the Mavs. A slower traditional lineup should play into San Antonio’s favor.
Jason Minnix, ESPN SA
Portland scares me, but in the end I think the Spurs experience and depth will be the difference. The Spurs should get better three point production and bench play than they did against Dallas. Spurs in 7.
Richard Oliver, Fox Sports Southwest
Thought the Dallas series was tough? The Blazers are a much more rugged matchup. Long, athletic and quick. Spurs will prevail, but this one will take another seven games — and years off of Pop’s life.
Spurs in 6: It’s not a super confident pick considering how efficient jump shooting teams like Portland exploit the Spurs defensive philosophy of forcing long-two’s. Doesn’t help that Spurs have also lost 14 of their last 21 matches against Portland. The Blazers were tough enough when it was just Aldridge surrounded by nobodies, the addition of all-star Damian Lillard and a few solid role players has made them lethal. However, I think the long Dallas series was the perfect preparation for a similar offensive style plus Portland is statistically awful against pick and roll/pop teams. Spurs finding their rhythm late in Round One and home court advantage will end up sending San Antonio to their third straight Conference Finals appearance. This will be be the must-watch series in the second round – beautiful basketball all around.
Spurs in 6. The Spurs roll as Splitter rolls, and given his effectiveness against the Mavericks, he should help the Spurs close this one out earlier.
The Blazers are very good, and the Spurs are very good. I’m picking the Spurs, though this series could end very differently if a few bounces go in the opposite direction. Spurs in 6.