Tuesday, May 13, 2014

San Antonio Lost A Game In Portland Tonight, Yesterday In Los Angeles

What To Avoid
Tonight in Portland, the Blazers made the first step towards becoming the first team in 109 to come back from an 0-3 hole in a best of seven NBA series. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard getting their sea legs underneath them, and the bench finally having some good moments, and no, I can't actually finish this sentence because there is no way that Portland wins three straight games in a row.

Not to unnecessarily denigrate the Blazers, who played about as well as they can, but this was much more about the Spurs working the calendar, and not quite having extreme urgency after the Clippers came back to tie the Thunder in Game Four.

And sure, that's a bit of reading into things like how the Spurs (specifically, Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli)s missed all of the open threes that were necessary to stay in touch during the Blazer third quarter run. With Spurs coach Gregg Popovich always willing to pull the chute and win the war over the battle, the Spurs went to deep reserves rather than try a low percentage catch up run in the fourth. But the biggest takeaway that I got from watching this game is that the Spurs really didn't need it, and didn't bring their A game, especially on defense.

Which isn't to say that the Blazers can't prolong this series beyond Game Five in San Antonio. Basketball games have more than a little bit of randomness in them, and if Aldridge delivers a big game, or Nicolas Batum has figured something out, or if the others Blazers hit their threes while the Spurs miss theirs, there will be more plane trips, along with aid and comfort to whoever survives the Thunder-Clippers best of three.

But, well, that's not how you bet. Or how the Spurs are going to play, when faced with the ability to avoid another 4,500 miles and 12 hours of plane travel. Or how the Blazer bench guys are going to react to a hostile crowd, or how Popovich will have his troops prepared, now that he's got an actual reason to yell at them for the first time in 10 days.

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