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Game 77 Preview: Spurs vs. Blazers

Sigh...this brutal stretch continues.  It used to be you could at least take solace in the Blazers being at home but April pretty much puts the kibosh on even that flicker of hope.  We've got one home game left that you'd consider us favorites to win, and this ain't it.

The Spurs are 52-24, having won 8 of their last 9.  The good news is the one game they lost was their last one, a 90-64 embarrassment against the Jazz during which they scored only 9 points in the fourth quarter.  The bad news is the one game they lost was their last one, a 90-64 embarrassment against the Jazz during which they scored only 9 points in the fourth quarter.  It's a fair bet that a Popavich-coached team is going to be looking to take it out on somebody after a drubbing like that.  It's like watching the school bully finally get his comeuppance, and then you happen to brush his elbow on the way down the hallway the next day.

I doubt I need to explain much about the Spurs to you.  They don't score a ton because they don't get many extra points from their supporting cast.  The points they do get, however, are regular, focused, and hard to stop.  They still play that nice defense.  They still know exactly when and where to take advantage of you.  They're not going to panic.  They're not going to blow games themselves.  The biggest flaw they have is that they are too measured and placid sometimes...they don't always put fire into the game.  As detailed above, that's not likely to be an issue today.

The Spurs get their edge from efficiently doing everything just a little better than they let you do it.  They're not a gimmick team.  They can play at any tempo.  They can hit inside and out, off the break or in the halfcourt.  They have trouble with two kinds of teams:  scoring powerhouses who can dump 110 on you and defensive-oriented teams who are as big as they are.  Portland, unfortunately, is neither.

In short, this is yet another game where any kind of reasonable challenge we put up would be considered good and a win miraculous.  It is Sunday, but I'm not sure the Spurs will be in a graceful mood.

What I'd Like To See

  1.  Brandon Roy back.
  2.  Lamarcus Aldridge accepting the challenge of playing against Tim Duncan and using his superior quickness to punish the Spurs' front line.
  3.  Some shots falling.
  4.  A wisp of a chance to be hopeful sometime in the fourth quarter.
  5.  A lack of miserably critical comments about our weaknesses after the game when we'd still be no more than a coin-flip to win it even if we were twice as good as we are.  I mean, how do you get cranky when the Spurs are just better?
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)