OK everyone, it’s confession time. Before the Western Conference Semifinals even started I said San Antonio Spurs in 7. I thought that the Portland Trail Blazers were going to come out and make the Spurs fight even harder throughout the series. They have been a huge shooting team all season long, so I thought the Spurs defense was really going to have their work cut out for them.
But so far, that hasn’t been the case.
In fact, the series has been kind of boring. I know Spurs fans aren’t complaining after the tough battle that Dallas put up for 7 games, but if games 1 and 2 are any indication, this series could be done long before the 7th game.
Tonight, the series starts. Yes, I know the Spurs lead 2-0, but according to Tony Parker, the series begins tonight.
“The series starts when you win one on the road,” Parker said in a post game interview after game 2. “It’s going to be even harder. It’s one of the toughest arenas to play in and they have a great crowd.”
In order for the Spurs to come out of game 3 with a victory, they’re going to have to take the Portland crowd out of the equation, and fast. The Spurs will need to come out with the same intensity and aggressiveness that they have been showing in the past three games. If they are able to keep up those two things, then they will be starting out on the right foot.
Trail Blazers’ Nicolas Batum agrees that the Spurs have been able to come out strong and that has been a major key for them in the series so far.
“The first five minutes were huge for them. We didn’t stop them. We let them do whatever they want. It’s tough to get back into the game after something like that,” Batum said after game 2.
Another major advantage for the Spurs tonight will be their depth. We’ve heard all season how deep the Spurs are, but in this series, it’s really showing. For much of the first series, the Spurs’ bench was lackluster and having a difficult time getting things going. However, in game 7 against Dallas, the bench came alive and they haven’t looked back since.
Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich says that the bench is huge for them.
“Our bench has been important all year. We would not have home court advantage without the play in those guys. They did a wonderful job all season long,” praised Popovich.
“When the bench does well, we usually do well. The bench is coming alive. They had a hard first series but the past two games, they have done well,” Parker said.
Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts even agrees that the Spurs depth gives them a huge advantage.
“Their bench does a great job of coming in and having a huge impact on the game,” Stotts said.
While the Spurs are packed with talent, Portland doesn’t have that same depth. Batum played almost the entire game 2, 44 minutes, because of Portland’s lack of depth. Look for the Spurs to capitalize on this advantage tonight in game 3.
Finally, Portland’s Mo Williams will be out tonight with a groin injury. He was a key player for the Blazers in the first round against the Rockets and the Blazers will undoubtably miss his presence on the court tonight. With Williams’ absence, look for Earl Watson and Will Barton to try to make up for Williams.
Tip off is set for tonight at 9:30 Central Time. So rest up Spurs fans, it’s going to be a late night because tonight, the series really begins. And hopefully, the Spurs will give everyone in San Antonio a Mother’s Day present tomorrow: free coffee to help them get going after a late game.