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Game 24 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Spurs

The defense won't be <em>this</em> soft this afternoon, but a few Aldridge dunks would still help.
The defense won't be this soft this afternoon, but a few Aldridge dunks would still help.

Game Time:  12:30 p.m. Pacific  TV:  CSNNW

A short preview this evening...

The Blazers are coming off of their two most impressive wins of the season, vanquishing the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns in short order and with surprisingly little fuss.  Both teams, though powerful on paper, had been struggling through sub-par performances before the Blazers added to their misery.  Portland will take advantage of no such trend this afternoon.  The San Antonio Spurs are on a 19-3 streak dating back to the beginning of the season.  They've lost three road games:  New Orleans, Dallas, and the L.A. Clippers.  They've not gone down at home yet.  The Blazers face the daunting task of blemishing their record.

Despite their historical prowess, the Suns and Magic both have a history of being good but not the best.  The Spurs have been the best and are looking, beyond probability, to regain that position.  Most of their key players have won more games than most of the Blazers have even played.  They sometimes come out slow versus Portland but it seldom lasts 48 minutes.  They sometimes bow to inferior teams but it seldom happens at home.

San Antonio's starting five of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, and Tim Duncan have started every game this season, another advantage over the Blazers.  They make liberal use of their bench to preserve their veterans.  Guard George Hill and center/forward Matt Bonner lead the way but the Spurs regularly play 10 guys more than 15 minutes per.  You can't get to them just by getting their starters to the pines.  You have to attack with your second unit as much as your first.

San Antonio shoots a healthy 47% from the field and scores an even healthier 107 per game.  They're near 80% from the foul line and right at 41% from the arc.  There's nothing they can't do offensively.  Duncan and Blair are good offensive rebounders.  Everybody chips in on the defensive boards.  The difference from years past is that the Spurs are mediocre defensively, sometimes downright bad defending the perimeter.  They allow more fast breaks and points in the paint than they did in their heyday.  Forcing turnovers and the aforementioned defensive rebounding are the only things to recommend their defense so far this year.

If the Blazers are to prevail they need to move the ball and the defenders, taking advantage of the relative age (and slowness) of San Antonio's players.  Portland will also need to take advantage of San Antonio's lack of three-point defense by draining the shots they get.  LaMarcus Aldridge should be able to capitalize on his mobility inside.  He always has good games in Texas.  Another would help.

See the lead-up at Pounding The Rock.

Enter today's Jersey Contest Scoreboard here.  Remember it's an afternoon start!

--Dave (