Dec 13, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) and San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) battle for position under the basket during the fourth quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs (48-14), still holding the best record in the league will play host tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers (28-32). San Antonio is coming off of a 101 to 83 drumming of the Chicago Bulls, where Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili paced the Spurs with 18 points each. As for Portland, they are coming off of a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies 85 to 91. J.J. Hickson had a double-double in the game scoring 12 points and 13 rebounds.
San Antonio has held the best record in the league despite the injuries that has hit the team as of late, but not to be a surprise to others in the league, San Antonio is built with the players in place that can step in and still know what their job is. What do the players feel about them being on top of the standings when they see Oklahoma City Thunder playing well and also the Miami Heat stringing off 16 in a row.
“We see Miami play and Oklahoma City, the amount of talent they have, the depth, they make crazy shots. And we look at the standings, and we’re on top,” said a seemingly amazed Manu Ginobili, who mentioned himself and Tim Duncan among the many lengthy absences San Antonio has endured.
The bench has been key for San Antonio. They have averaged 52.7 points, and that is without the services of one Gary Neal also.
Nov. 10, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) puts up a shot on San Antonio Spurs point guard Patrick Mills (8) during the third quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Spurs won the game 112-109. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Ginobili is the key off of the bench. He is starting to play at another level and has 35 points over the past two games. Patty Mills (everyone’s favorite) has averaged 10.3 points per and over 76% shooting from the floor as well in the past three.
The Blazers haven’t visited San Antonio since losing two trips last season by a combined 51 points. The teams have split two meetings in Portland this season.
Damian Lillard’s 29 points keyed a 98-90 win over the Spurs on Dec. 13 in the last matchup. The Rookie of the Year candidate has scored at least 20 in four straight games.
LaMarcus Aldridge also helped out in the win back in December as he scored 22 and grabbed 6 rebounds.
Starting Lineups // Who Has The Edge
Point GuardsCorey Joseph vs Damian Lillard
Joseph is coming off of a game where he played 24 minutes. He scored just 4 points in the game but he did do a good job on Nate Robinson keeping him out of the lane. He is your typical point guard, looking to get everyone else involved and when he can he will shoot. What can you say about Lillard. The kid can flat out play. From someone who didn’t come from a big school, he sure has become one of the shining stars in the league and is well on his way to being named Rookie of the Year.
Shooting GuardsDanny Green vs Wesley Matthews
I am still puzzled about what I saw from Green on Wednesday night. He was not the aggressive Danny Green that I have seen the past few games. He put up just five shots in 23 minutes. Though he wasn’t his usual self on the offensive end, he still did his part on the defensive side. He is one of those players that always has his hands in the game no matter what it is. His length is what is scary and if you think you can get a pass by him without it getting touched at some point, think again. I look for him to come out firing tonight. Matthews in his last game out against Memphis scored 11 points in 33 minutes. An athletic guard, he does remind me of Green in a way because of his energy and he is always around the ball.
Small ForwardsKawhi Leonard vs Nicolas Batum
Leonard has become one to watch in the open floor. He goes to the rim as hard as anyone and looks to draw contact. Though he is
Apr 22, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AT
coming on with the offense, he is our ‘Bruce Bowen’. He will be depended on to guard the other teams best player and I can see him guard Lillard at some point tonight. In the last game against Chicago, Leonard had some energizing dunks to get the crowd involved. He had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The last time these two met, way back in December, Leonard did not play. Batum is an energy player, and he can score. Though he had a rough shooting night against the Grizzlies (scored just 10 points, 4-of-10 shooting) he can easily give you 20 a night.
EDGE: San Antonio
Power ForwardsTim Duncan vs LaMarcus Aldridge
Coming into this game, Duncan has recorded four consecutive double-doubles. He is playing with a sense of urgency since Tony Parker went down with an injury. He can do it all. That is why he is called the ‘Big Fundamental’. Against Chicago, he was a man amongst boys on defense throwing back 5 block shots. He finished with 18 points. He will have his hands full tonight with LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is like a Duncan. He can shoot it from outside and take it inside. He likes to be around the ball at all times and brings the energy for Portland. Last outing against San Antonio he had 22 and 6.
EDGE: San Antonio
CentersTiago Splitter vs J.J. Hickson
Last time these two met Splitter came off of the bench and played nearly 29 minutes. In that time he notched 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Against Chicago, he had a double-double, 13 and 10. J.J. Hickson is coming off of a double-double himself against the Memphis Grizzlies. Splitter will have to keep Hickson off of the boards as that is where he gets most of his points from.
BenchSan Antonio got 35 points from their bench paced by Manu Ginobili (18 points) and Patty Mills (13 points). Stephen Jackson pitched in seven. The Bulls don’t have much of a bench outside of Eric Maynor and Meyers Leonard. San Antonio has scorers off the bench we all know, look for Matt Bonner to hit one, two maybe three from downtown tonight as he did not even attempt one against Chicago.
EDGE: San Antonio
Television: NBA League PassLocal: FSSWRadio: 1200 WOAI
For perspective from Portland, head over to Rip City Project.