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Sports

Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview – Blazers Edge

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the San Antonio Spurs in Moda Center for their second game of a three game home stretch. The Blazers are looking to win their third straight game, and their seventh in their last eight games. The Spurs are looking to improve on a win against the Sacramento Kings coming off of a five game losing streak.

Saturday, May 8 – 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Carmelo Anthony (out)
Spurs injuries: Derrick White (out), Trey Lyles (out)
SBN Affiliate: Pounding The Rock

  • Damian Lillard. Lillard hit a rough patch recently in scoring, having an 11 game drought without scoring 30, a number that the Blazers are not used to seeing get that high. However, he has bounced back as of late as the Blazers have hit their stride, scoring 32 or more points in four of his last five performances. Lillard tends to step up his play as the season begins to wind down, especially when the stakes are as high as they are this year, and we should expect him to continue his hot scoring streak tonight.
  • Turnovers. The Blazers and Spurs rank first and second in the league for least turnovers per game this season, sitting at 11.2 and 11.5 per game respectively. Both teams take care of the ball very well, and which team can cause more disruptions on offense leading to mistakes by the other may very well come away with the victory in this match up.
  • Inside vs Outside. The Blazers and Spurs play vastly different brands of basketball when it comes to where the majority of their points come from. The Blazers rank second in the league in three point makes per game, compared to the Spurs’ 29th rank. The Spurs also rank in the top half of the league in points in the paint per game, ranking 13th with 47.5 paint points per game, as opposed to the Blazers 38.9 points in the paint, good for dead last in the league. Which team is able to play how they want and get to their spots will play a huge factor in deciding this contest.

Jesus Gomez of Pounding The Rock talks about the Spurs’ recent struggles with performing in the clutch, and talks about possible reasons why.

The definition the league uses for clutch time is the last five minutes of a game in which a team is ahead by five points or fewer. Since the start of the season until February, when they ranked fifth in the conference, the Spurs were 8-5 in such games. By All-Star weekend they were still above .500 in those situations but were now 10-9 for the season. Since then, they have gone 5-11.

After looking at the numbers, the question to ask is what changed? Why were the Spurs good in the clutch early in the season and so bad since the break until now? The main factor, at least statistically speaking, seems to be interior defense. San Antonio went from allowing .367 points in the paint per possession in the clutch before the All-Star break to .568 post All-Star break, the third worse mark in the league behind only the Warriors and Cavaliers.

Josh Paredes of Air Alamo talked about the future of the Spurs, building around the ‘29 Boys.’

“We’re all, like, the ‘29 boys,” said White. Since 2016, the Spurs have selected Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Keldon Johnson all at 29th in their respective NBA Drafts. While injuries slowed down White’s progress this season, Dejounte is in the midst of his best one yet.

Putting up 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per night, Dejounte is a prime candidate to take the torch from DeRozan as the team’s top scorer and leader if he departs. The next step for Murray? Showing consistency on a night basis — something I believe he’s more than capable of doing.

Rounding out the 29 Boys is the exuberant 21-year-old with an infectious personality, Keldon Johnson. While he’s a dark horse to become the team’s leader any time soon, he’s sure to be a part of the team’s future for years to come.

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