Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sport
The previous meeting between the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers was a bit of a limited matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge sitting out with an injury. Even so, the Trail Blazers should have had the upper hand with the Spurs playing that game without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and fan favorite Aron Baynes. The Spurs came out victorious in a close game– 111-109. Here is the breakdown of three key goals for the Spurs, so that they can push their win streak to eight.
Joel Freeland (Right MCL Sprain)
Mo Williams (Strained Right Hip)
All Stats Courtesy of NBA.com/stats
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard need to continue their hot streak
In the previous two games, Ginobili is averaging 23 points and three assists in just 24 minutes. He shooting a scorching 70.3 percent from the field and 52.8 percent from long range. He is playing with confidence and attacking the hoop ferociously. Sure one of the teams he happened to go off against was the Magic, but putting up such solid numbers against the defensively minded Bulls is no stroll in the park.
Kawhi Leonard continues to look strong since returning from his injury. He is averaging 15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 2.4 assists while shooting 54.4 percent in his previous seven games. I already covered Leonard’s miniature breakout in more detail, but you can’t ignore what he is doing on both ends of the floor. We can almost certainly expect Duncan and Parker to have their usual strong games, but the Spurs will really need at least one of Ginobili and Leonard to step up tonight.
Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Strong Bench Play
The Spurs were fortunate enough to have Patty Mills put up 29 points in 29 minutes and Manu Ginobili score 16 points in the last matchup between these two teams, but the rest of the bench will need to be consistent in tonight’s game. I’m not saying that everyone needs to put up double figures, but some great ball movement and high energy can make a huge difference. With both teams coming off games last night, the bench will need to do their best to keep the starters as rested as possible. Boris Diaw has been playing excellent ball as of lately, averaging 12.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 5 games in March. He is playing incredibly smart basketball and shooting 54.5 percent. This immense increase in rebounding could be crucial down the stretch for the Spurs. It will be nice to see Diaw continue his strong play tonight; he has played well against the Trail Blazers so far this series.
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Spurs have yet figured out a solution to LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge has put up 25 points on 56.4 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks in his two meetings with the Spurs. It will be interesting to see what Pop will try to do; Aldridge’s jumper from the post up is his signature go-to move, and the Spurs are having trouble stopping it. Pop will end up putting different defenders on Aldridge, but at least Aldridge has been struggling since returning from his injury– shooting only 38.4 percent. The Spurs have had some trouble closing out on three pointers this season, and Wesley Matthews has taken advantage of that by going 11 for 18 combined against them in all 3 meetings. The Trail Blazers have plenty of capable three point shooters on their team, and if they start to get hot from there, it could be all downhill for the Spurs.
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The Trail Blazers will look to end their three game skid tonight, while the Spurs hope to push their win streak to eight games. The game will be close, but with the Spurs playing so well and fluidly lately, it’s hard to see them losing this game. Terry Stotts has been struggling with his team, especially with some questionable plays down the stretch against the Houston Rockets. Coach Pop will make the necessary adjustments, especially when it comes to Aldridge. I am confident that the Spurs will accomplish what needs to be done to close this one out. Hopefully their defense can pick up and actually stop the Trail Blazers from putting up points like they have in the previous three times they have played.
Final Predicted Score: