The San Antonio Spurs are now only one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight year after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 in Game 3.
Much like the rest of the series, the Spurs dominated from the opening tip and never looked back. The Spurs have mainly been dominating every first quarter due to the aggression of Tony Parker. Parker, who has looked like a completely different player this series in comparison to the Mavs series, dominated the Blazers in the first quarter with an array of uncontested jumpers and tough finishes in the lane.
Along with Parker’s efforts, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, and Manu Ginobili spearheaded the bench attack that once again outscored the Blazers bench 40-6. While the Blazers bench is not that deep (and is basically nonexistent without Mo Williams), a 34-point differential is insane. As seen in the two previous games, the Blazers don’t stand a chance if their starters, who have been ineffective and inefficient so far anyways, are each having to play close to 38 minutes plus each.
The Spurs won the turnover battle 14-7 and outshot the Blazers 48.3 percent to 42.9 percent from the field. The Blazers did manage to beat the Spurs in two categories, three pointers made and rebounds, but they were both by a mere three or rebound.
The Blazers continued to concede giving Parker open jump shots by going through screens, and again they paid dearly for it. Parker barely missed the 30-point threshold but was easily the best player on the floor once again. The Blazers tried moving Nicolas Batum over on him in an attempt to bother Parker with Batum’s length in the second half, but Parker had already done most of his damage by that point.
Outside of Parker, Tim Duncan finished with a quiet 19 points and 7 rebounds while Kawhi Leonard finished with a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Although Manu did not have the most efficient night shooting, he got the line 10 times and made all of them. As a team, the Spurs shot an astounding 25-25 from the free throw line.
On the other side of the ball, the Blazers had another rough night getting their shots.
Tiago Splitter has done an indescribably good job on guarding All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge, frustrating him throughout the game and making him finish 9-23 shooting for a hard-earned 21 points. The Spurs have also done a terrific job of running Damian Lillard off the three-point line and completely taking that part of his game out of this series. Lillard relies a lot on his three point shot to generate his points, and the Spurs have made a concerted effort to eliminate his threes as best as possible. If the Blazers expect to win on Monday and not be swept, then they’re going to have to get Lillard some easy looks from behind the arc.
The Blazers almost made things interesting in the third quarter when they cut the lead to 7 points, but that was the closest they would get the entire game.
Through three games, it is apparent that the Spurs are just a much better team. They have dominated in almost every aspect of the game, providing fireworks in each game and have filled up the box score to the delight of many fantasy basketball fans.
The Spurs have a chance to close out the Blazers on Monday and be rewarded with a week of rest depending on how the Thunder-Clippers series goes. While a full week of rest has its benefits for this battle-tested group, this Spurs team is clicking on all cylinders at the right time and may prefer to keep playing. Nonetheless, the Spurs still have to eliminate the Blazers before they start looking ahead to a juicy matchup with either the Thunder or Clippers.