Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Spurs fans, I have an announcement to make: The operation was a success, and the Portland Trail Blazers season died. The San Antonio Spurs promptly dismissed the Portland Trail Blazers 104-82 to win the Western Conference Semifinals 4-1. With four blowout victories, they stood head and shoulders over the Blazers throughout this series.
For the third straight year, the San Antonio Spurs will be in the Western Conference Finals.
Now, they can sit back, rest and thankfully (more on that later) watch who they will match up with in the next round. With the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder going through such a taxing series, it will be a very important time for the Spurs to relax and prepare for the next round (The Thunder have advanced as of this writing.)
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 22 points apiece. Patty Mills scored 18 points and Tim Duncan finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 21 points and Damian Lillard had 17 points and ten assists. The story of night, though, is the status of the hamstring of Tony Parker. He left in the first half and did not return.
On this one night, despite Parker not scoring, it did not matter. Here’s what I learned.
1. The San Antonio Spurs are so pleasant to watch on the offensive end.
Feb 19, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forwardBoris Diaw
(33) looks to shoot around Portland Trail Blazers shooting guardWesley Matthews
(2) during the third quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
As the Editor of the Chicago Bulls website, I can tell Spurs fans this: You guys really don’t realize how nice it is to watch a team that runs such an efficient offensive (and defensive) system every night.
The Chicago Bulls, in comparison, make San Antonio’s offense look like a Dick Vitale video.
Who Will Represent the West in the 2014 NBA Finals?
When Tony Parker went down with his hamstring injury, Patty Mills just slid into his spot, and the machine kept right on humming along. The way these guys move the ball totally outclassed Portland. The Spurs are probably the only team left in the playoffs that can run their offense smoothly without running the pick and roll every single time down.
San Antonio had an absurd 24 assists on 42 baskets,while shooting 47 percent from the field with 43 fast-break points; all of this while Tony Parker is in the locker room injured.
I’ll sum up the offense in Game 5 this way: the Spurs were aggressive, they moved the ball and, therefore, moved onto the next round.
2. The San Antonio Spurs bench smoked the Blazers bench like a pack of Kools.
May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (left) and guardManu Ginobili
react from the bench in the second half of game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
I think everybody needs to sit down for this—the Spurs bench outscored Portland 40-7 in Game 5.
Not a typo.
The bench have emerged, easily, as the best out of the rest left in this year’s playoffs. For the series, the Spurs outscored the Trail Blazers 220-76.
.@Spurs bench advantage in its series v. POR: 220 to 77 SAS: 1st this season in Bench PPG (45.1) & 1st so far in the ’14 Playoffs (39.5)
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 15, 2014
I know Mo Williams went down with a groin injury and was out for the last three games, but that really does not matter in this case. It was Patty Mills leading the way in the final game, but all bench players had their moments to shine in this series.
Boris Diaw looked great in this series defending and shooting well from the perimeter. Marco Bellinelli shot well in spot minutes. Manu Ginobli’s shot is still off, but he played a solid floor game as well.
Bottom line, when the bench was in the game, there was no letdown. The bench went from being afterthoughts in the first round to being the difference through the second; a huge turnaround for the Spurs going forward.
3. Did Danny Green read my article?
May 4, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) and guard Danny Green (4) react against the Dallas Mavericks in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
I guess the real Danny Green showed up in Game 5.
Danny Green led the Spurs in scoring with 22 points on the strength of four three-point shots. He also had nine rebounds. What does that tell us, Spurs fans? Danny Green was aggressive.
Losing your confidence is an ugly thing to look at sometimes. Danny Green was that dude for a few games. Like I said in my last piece about Green, he must be able to knock down the perimeter shot to open up the offense. The lanes were wide open for Kawhi Leonard to drive to the bucket and get shots inside.
Those were my lessons, you guys already know this!
Kawhi Leonard is a flat-out beast. He, along with Patty Mills, sped up the game and ran Portland back to Oregon. He wreaked havoc on the defensive end grabbing five of the team’s 13 steals. Overall, the team forced 18 turnovers.
I was laughing when Shaquille O’Neal gave him the nickname “Sugar K Leonard” because his game is so sweet. Shaq’s not lying. Leonard does not waste any energy dancing around with the ball. The man just gets buckets. With Tony Parker going down, the Spurs are going to lean more on Leonard to raise his game to the next level if they want to get a championship ring.
Let me tell all of you something: He can, and he will.