May 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) passes the ball under the basket against Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 114-97. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not saying that this series is over because they say that the series don’t start until someone loses a home game but this is getting ugly. I will say this though: the San Antonio Spurs are surgically dismantling the Portland Trail Blazers in this series.
For the first two games, the operation has been a success and the chance for Portland winning this series is basically on life support. For the second straight game the Spurs used a huge second quarter to run the Trail Blazers back to Oregon winning 114-97. They now own a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semi-finals.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 20 points on an extremely efficient 8-9 shooting. Tony Parker had a double-double scoring 16 points and dishing out ten assists. Tim Duncan scored ten points and grabbed six rebounds. Nicolas Batum led the Trail Blazers with 21 points. Damian Lillard had 19 points while LaMarcus Aldridge was held in check with 16. Game three is on the road. Here’s what I learned in Texas to take on the trip.
Click here to see my 3 things from game one!
1) Take a long look Spurs fans at your new superstar, Kawhi Leonard.
May 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is defended by Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams (left) in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Let me tell you something San Antonio Spurs fans. It’s late and time to put the kiddies to bed because Kawhi Leonard is a grown man. It’s one thing to score 20 points to lead the team in a blowout. It’s another thing to do this on 8-9 shooting.
But it’s the ease of how he’s doing it that really gets me. We might be witnessing history here. Usually players as young as Kawhi depend solely on their athleticism to get by. I mean, take a look at Portland, who have a couple of players in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge who is doing it and it’s not working well in the series.
Leonard has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years under the Spurs system. Now we all know that you can’t touch the floor without playing defense. Leonard is now arguably the Spurs best defender with two steals and two blocks. One of those blocks was a huge one, blocking Wesley Matthews in the last five minutes when Portland was making a run to cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter to end it.
The one telling thing you can use to tell if a young player is working on his game is shooting. When Leonard came into the league, the dude couldn’t shoot. Now he is a capable shooter. In Game two, Kawhi knocked down all four three point shots. Tony Parker has taken all of the headlines and deservedly so, but Kawhi Leonard has quietly crippled Portland in this series.
May 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) reacts after being called for an offensive foul against the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 114-97. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
2) The San Antonio Spurs are beating down LaMarcus Aldridge.
Believe me, this is not an indictment of Aldridge. Last week, he was killing Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets in the first round. But in this series, the Spurs will not let this man get on track. Aldridge had 16 points and ten rebounds, but it was on an awful 6-23 shooting. Plus he missed two dunks and a bunch of shots he usually makes.
The Spurs have done a masterful job of running bodies at him to wear him down. Let’s be clear here, LaMarcus Aldridge is a great player, but he’s a big guy that would rather play on the perimeter. The Spurs are obviously in his head bumping him and making him work for every shot he takes.
Remember when I told everyone that Aldridge scored a “”soft” 32 points in Game one? Well the Spurs must read this website because they didn’t give Aldridge a “soft” anything. Game one could have gotten Aldridge in a groove that was comparable to the first round of the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs wasn’t going to let that start in Texas. Understand, Spurs fans, that this is a total defensive team effort.. The wing players are taking away the three point shot of the Blazers which allows the Spurs to sag down and throw more bodies at Aldridge. That’s something to check out while watching Game three.
May 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Marco Belinelli (3) celebrates a score with San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) against the Portland Trail Blazers in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
3) The San Antonio Spurs bench is burying the Trail Blazers.
I could just say that the Spurs outscored Portland’s bench 50-19 and stop. I mean, that speaks for itself right? But we here at Air Alamo, the best choice for San Antonio Spurs news, previews, and reviews, go further than that. After playing atrocious in the first round series vs. the Dallas Mavericks, the bench has been reborn. Manu Ginobli did his usual thing scoring 16 points while creating havoc for the TrailBlazers defense. I want to talk about the play of Marco Bellinelli.
After having a strong Game one, Marco kept up his strong play scoring 13 points in Game two. But look at the efficiency in how he’s doing it. He shot 4-5 from the field, 2-3 from the land of the extra point and hit all of his free throws. What he is doing right now is spreading the floor so Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker can get to the lane and be so effective. Like I told you fans before, he did the same thing in Chicago. If he was still in Chicago, I probably wouldn’t be moonlighting right now. The Bulls would still be playing. Let’s hope he can keep it up for the first game in Portland!