Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers starts off an exciting series; a matchup of youth vs. experience.
Did experience win Game 1?
Who is the player of the game for Game 1 of these Western Conference Semi-Finals between San Antonio and Portland?
The Portland Trail Blazers are having trouble with Tony Parker getting into the lane, just as Ethan Cohen of Air Alamo previewed:
Parker is the man that orchestrates the Spurs offensive machine. When Parker is assertive and looking for his shot, the entire floor opens up for his teammates. When he isn’t, the Spurs have a more difficult time getting the shots they want. Throughout the Mavs series, the Mavs relied on guarding Parker with the longer and versatile Shawn Marion. In recent years, other teams have deployed this strategy–the Oklahoma City Thunder with Thabo Sefolosha and the Miami Heat with LeBron James–in an attempt to keep the ball out of Tony’s hands and make him a second option. It will be interesting to see if the Blazers attempt the same strategy.
Nicholas Batum is a very long and versatile small forward who can truly guard four positions. I think this is the best option for the Blazers going forward. Granted, Lillard is a supreme athlete who has the quickness to stay in front of Parker, but why would the Blazers want him to expend his energy chasing Parker around? Instead, look for the Blazers to put Batum on Parker and shift Lillard over to Danny Green and Matthews on Kawhi. Now, Matthews is a very good defender as I previously noted, but if this is the match up that is presented then the Spurs need to get the ball into Kawhi’s hands in the post.