What Can Blazers' Offense Take From The Spurs?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A breakdown of what lessons the Portland Trail Blazers might be able to take from the San Antonio Spurs when it comes to offensive execution.

The San Antonio Spurs have one of the best-run offenses in the NBA today and it's a thing of beauty. While the Portland Trail Blazers' offense is one of the best in the league in terms of points per game (106.7 points per game in the 2013-14 regular season), there are still a couple of things Portland can learn from a Gregg Popovich-coached team.

Making the right pass at the right time.

Portland is a very good passing team that gets a lot of points off moving the ball and assisting (23.2 assists per game in the 2013-14 regular season). With a coach as offensively-oriented as Terry Stotts, the group on the floor is going to get open shots. Dorell Wright manages to get an open shot in the video below.

Like the Blazers, the Spurs make extra passes to get good shots. They, however, take the passing mentality to the next level. They pass up good shots for great shots. In the clip below, they manage to pass five times on a single possession, resulting in a good shot for Tim Duncan. That's something many teams in the NBA can't do.

Make the most out of dribble-drive penetration.

While both teams use the dribble-drive well, the Spurs use it to get uncontested shots for their marksmen on the perimeter. Portland gets similar shots by playing through LaMarcus Aldridge and kicking out from the post, but it isn't as reliable as the dribble-drive. In the clip below, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili drives into the paint, drawing in all the Cleveland Cavalier defenders. This left guard Danny Green open on the three-point line for a clean look, once Patty Mils made the extra pass.

Don't force shots.

I pointed out earlier that in the second video, the Spurs made five passes before they attempted a shot. Portland, however, often relies on isolation by Aldridge alone on the block. This play style is generally used when the offensive player has a significant advantage over the defender. In the clip, Aldridge is guarded by Memphis forward Zach Randolph. There isn't much of an advantage for Aldridge and he forces a tough shot that misses.


As was shown in the first part of the season, Portland's offense is based on getting open shots from the perimeter. When opposing teams began paying attention to the three-point line, the Blazers were temporarily crippled. Coach Terry Stotts was able to transform his offense into one that focused on playing within the key.

Even the revamped offense, however, was blitzed by the Spurs at the same time they were lighting the Blazers up on the other side of the court. The Blazers can take a lot of things from the Spurs and if they do so, they will be much harder to defend in the 2014-15 season.

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