In game one, the San Antonio Spurs left no question about who should have won that game. They quickly jumped out on a lead against the Portland Trail Blazers, and never looked back. The final result was a wire-to-wire 116-92 victory.
In order to repeat that performance, the Spurs should focus on these three keys to victory:
1. Coming out strong (and continuing it)
This made seem like an obvious one, but it need to be said. In this season’s playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers have trailed after every first quarter sans their very first game. The Blazers do not come out of the gate very strong. The key here is to use that to the Spurs advantage, and keep it going. Obviously, since they are in the second round, the Blazers have found a way to bounce back after trailing. Like in game one, the Spurs gave them no reason to think they could ever come back. Pounce on them early, and don’t give them any hope they can rally to take the lead.
2. Controlling the boards
Before game one, I touched on how important rebounding would be, due to Portland being the top rebounding team in the association. In game one, the Portland Trail Blazers outrebounded the Spurs 47-45. If the Spurs keep the totals that close together, that is a win. During the regular season, the Blazers outrebounded everyone by an average of one rebound, and were a whole three rebounds ahead of the Spurs. A huge aspect of this is Kawhi Leonard outdoing Nicolas Batum 9-5. Going forward, not just in game two, rebounding at every position will be key.
3. Bench play
The San Antonio Spurs have the best bench in the NBA, averaging 44.5 points per game. The Portland Trail Blazers have the worst bench in the NBA, averaging 24.0 points per game. In game one, the Blazers bench scored 18 points. Marco Belinelli outscored that bench singlehandedly. As a unit, the Spurs racked up 50 bench points. A key going forward will be for the bench to continually step up, and essentially compete with the Blazers’ starters, seeing as they barely even play a bench.
Game two is set for an 830 P.M. tip on ESPN2. Look for the Spurs to continue with the game plan, and the keys above, that gave them a 1-0 series advantage over the Blazers.