Scouting the Trail Blazers: Clinching the No. 1 seed

By Quixem Ramirez

Feb. 21, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Eric Dawson (23) passes the ball off as Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends during the third quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game 137-97. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

It’s very unlikely that the Spurs lose by 40 again, don’t you think?

Offensive rating: Spurs – 110.56 (1st), Trail Blazers – 106.0 (12th)Defensive rating: Spurs – 103.3 (11th), Trail Blazers – 106.1 (19th)Pace: Spurs – 92.6 (7th), Trail Blazers – 91.1 (16th)Time: 7:30 p.m.TV: FSSWRadio: WOAI-AM 1200, KCOR-AM 1350

Three things to watch

The No. 1 seed. As you probably already know, the No. 1 seed will seemingly belong to the Spurs after tonight’s result. I am assuming, of course, the Spurs win tonight regardless of the talent that sits out. I have to admit that I was partially rooting — emphasis on partially — for the Lakers in their nationally televised game against the Thunder solely because it would benefit the Spurs. Now that the Spurs have some breathing room, 1.5 games with three games remaining, their preparation for the playoffs will not be impeded by the allusive No. 1 seed. A win tonight and it’s ours. It’s that simple. I have to say that this is very preferable because clinching early will allow Pop all kinds of leeway to rest guys whenever he sees fit. And, should the Spurs struggle in any playoff series, we won’t ever have to worry about playing a Game Seven on the road. And that, in itself, is a valuable luxury even though home-court advantage doesn’t guarantee anything (it didn’t last year). Still. It’s nice.

Manu Ginobili. Buck Harvey deciphered the Manu conundrum in his latest column for Spurs Nation. And, given the nature of Manu’s injury history and his notoriously reckless style of play, the people calling for the Spurs to limit Manu’s minutes certainly have a point. I don’t know where to stand on this. Pop has kept Manu’s minutes under control so I don’t think Manu has logged too many minutes. However, he might not need any more tuning. In his last five games, Manu averaged 16 points, 4.6 assists, four rebounds on 63 percent shooting. Plus, he’s only logged over 25 minutes once in that span. Manu is steadily regaining his form and we could be witnessing a more efficient version, albeit with a reduced role, of Manu come playoff time. I just know one thing for sure; I want this guy to be completely healthy come playoff time. The method that Pop uses to accomplish this is irrelevant, at least to me.

Another double-digit victory? Just because it’s really, really fun to watch the Spurs blow out every conceivable team. They don’t seem to take anything for granted.

Final verdict. Spurs by 17. For no other reason that the Spurs are due for a 17-point victory. They’ve beaten their last seven opponents by the following margins: 10, 14, 16, 21 (2x), 24, 25. I’ve been wrong on the last seven consecutive games. It’s time, right?