Killer Instinct: "Big 3" Spurs Usually Translate Blowout Wins Into Series Victories

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

History suggests that if the "Big 3" San Antonio Spurs blow out your team in the playoffs, it's not a cause for optimism.

For a fan, the natural first thought after a 24-point loss like the Portland Trail Blazers suffered in Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs is unprintable. But the second thought involves the "Memorial Day Massacre", Game 1 of 1985 Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The Celtics blew out the Lakers in Boston, 148-114, in front of a screaming, partying crowd. That victory led many media members and fans to crown the defending champion Celtics as repeat title-winners. Instead, the Lakers struck back, winning four of the next five games, including Game 2, to prove that the pundits had rushed to judgment.

The Blazers don't need to game plan for Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, but they do face a stiff test in the Spurs, who won a league-best 62 games this season. Just how difficult will it be for Portland to shock the world like L.A. did all those years ago? Unfortunately for Blazer fans, history suggests this will be a tall order.

San Antonio's "Big 3" core has produced plenty of blowout victories in the playoffs. Since Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili assembled in 2002, the Spurs have blown out opponents by 20+ points 16 times in 14 different series. Here's how they turned out:

May 15, 2003: Spurs defeat Los Angeles Lakers 110-82 [Round 2, Game 6]
Spurs WIN series 4-2

April 17, 2004: Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 98-74 [Round 1, Game 1]
Spurs WIN series in 4-0 sweep

April 27, 2005: Spurs defeat Denver Nuggets 104-76 [Round 1, Game 2]
Spurs WIN series 4-1

May 8, 2005: Spurs defeat Seattle Supersonics 103-81 [Round 2, Game 1]
Spurs WIN series 4-2

June 12, 2005: Spurs defeat Detroit Pistons 97-76 [Finals, Game 2]
Spurs WIN series 4-3

April 22, 2006: Spurs defeat Sacramento Kings 122-88 [Round 1, Game 1]
May 5, 2006: Spurs defeat Kings 105-83 [Round 1, Game 5]
Spurs WIN series 4-2

May 30, 2007: Spurs defeat Utah Jazz 109-84 [Round 3, Game 5]
Spurs WIN series 4-1

May 11, 2008: Spurs defeat New Orleans Hornets 100-80 [Round 2, Game 4]
Spurs WIN series 4-3

April 20, 2009: Spurs defeat Mavericks 105-84 [Round 1, Game 2]
Spurs LOSE series 4-1

May 2, 2012: Spurs defeat Jazz 114-83 [Round 1, Game 2]
Spurs WIN series 4-0

April 26, 2013: Spurs defeat Lakers 120-89 [Round 1, Game 3]
April 28, 2013: Spurs defeat Lakers 103-82 [Round 1, Game 4]
Spurs WIN series in 4-0 sweep

May 19, 2013: Spurs defeat Grizzlies 105-83 [Round 3, Game 1]
Spurs WIN series in 4-0 sweep

June 11, 2013: Spurs defeat Miami Heat 113-77 [Finals, Game 3]
Spurs LOSE series 4-3.

May 4, 2014: Spurs defeat Mavericks 119-96 [Round 1, Game 7]
Spurs WIN Series 4-3. (This was 3 days ago!)

May 6, 2014: Spurs defeat Portland Trail Blazers 116-92 [Round 2, Game 1]
Result to be determined.

[Results taken from Basketball Reference's Game Finder, view details here]

That's not pretty. Count them up, and the "Big 3" Spurs have gone 14-2 in series in which they have won at least one game by 20+ points. Of the 14 series, four went to seven games and four led to a Spurs sweep.

And those two series losses? Both came against future Finals winners. In 2009, the Mavericks were a better-than-sixth seed who had fought through injuries all season. Meanwhile, the Spurs had lost Ginobili to an ankle injury, and an upset was in the making. The Mavs would win the title two years later. And just last year, the Spurs beat the Heat by 36 points in Game 2, and came within one rebound of winning the series in six games. But the ball went to Ray Allen, and the rest is history.

If there is any good news for the Blazers, it's recent history. Their last two series (Miami in 2013 and Dallas in 2014) both featured a Spurs blowout, and both went to 7 games.

Can the Blazers buck history? We'll know by this time next week.

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