The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers head back to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals tonight.
San Antonio leads the series 3-1 and look to give the Blazers the gentlemen’s sweep.
Portland changed things up in Game 4. Head coach Terry Stotts, a disciple of Dallas Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle, slid swingman Nicolas Batum to guard Tony Parker on the defensive end, rather than Damian Lillard. Parker finished the game with a series low in both field-goal attempts and points.
“The energy was weird tonight. You have to give a lot of credit to Portland. They played great. They came out of the gates, and I thought Batum was great tonight. He gave them a big boost.” – Tony Parker
The Blazers certainly played well throughout Game 4 and deserve all the credit in the world, but the San Antonio Spurs were simply missing shots that they have been usually making all season. Tim Duncan missed seven field-goal attempts and Kawhi Leonard five.
Lillard was able to successfully hide on the defensive end, a rarity against Gregg Popovich, but Danny Green, too, could not consistently find the bottom of the net. He’s shooting 32.1 and 22.2 percent from the field and three-point line, respectively. Matthew Tynan of 48 Minutes of Hell explains it best:
And it wasn’t as if the opportunities weren’t there. According to NBA.com’s SportVU data, 49 of San Antonio’s 88 field-goal attempts were uncontested (no defender within four feet), and it managed to knock down only 16 of them. That’s absurd on both fronts. Spurs shooters were open all night, but they just couldn’t hit a damn thing.
Another Rick Carlisleian adjustment: Portland bigs did a nice job sagging way off on pick-and-rolls, much like the Mavs did, thwarting San Antonio’s relentless penetration and forcing the Spurs to hit Duncan on those deep pick-and-pops. That’s a shot they’ll live with all day. Still, the fact remains, the Spurs got nearly everything they wanted.
Essentially, Portland played harder than with just the we’re-about-to-get-swept mentality. They made adjustments. They changed their pick-and-roll defense, their man-on-man coverage, floor spacing, all the minute details that the Spurs usually dominate. The bench also finally came through for the Blazers, particularly Will Barton and Thomas Robinson.
But we’re going back home, now; there’s no way the Spurs will shoot 16.7 percent from three again and 57.9 percent from the free-throw line. 57.9 percent? Really? The Spurs can only take a step forward tonight compared to last game.
“If they lost today it was a sweep, but they’ve got pride and they played good. They played the game more desperately than we did. We didn’t bring the same emotions the first three games. The bottom line is they played better than us in every aspect of the game.” – Manu Ginobili
Tonight’s Game 5 begins on TNT at 9:30 ET. Charles Barkley has been absolutely hounding the city of San Antonio, particularly their obesity problem and
Creek Riverwalk. According to him, Victoria is certainly a Secret down in SA, and Weight Watchers is a gold mine.
**Quotes from ProjectSpurs.com