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Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs Preview

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In a battle for the Western Conference, the Blazers square off against a familiar face in San Antonio.

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (42-26) at San Antonio Spurs (40-29)

Saturday, March 16 - 5:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Maurice Harkless (questionable)
Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock

The battle for seeding in the Western Conference continues as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the surging San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers got a strong performance from Rodney Hood in a 120-108 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night. Damian Lillard showed his stuff, passing LaMarcus Aldridge for second all-time on the Trail Blazers’ scoring list.

For the Spurs, they have won seven in a row, taking advantage of a weak stretch of opponents. Last time out they vanquished the New York Knicks 109-83, with the aforementioned Aldridge scoring 18 points. Now they look to gain more ground towards home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

What to watch for

Battle of the bench. San Antonio’s depth has been called into question at times during a grueling campaign, and the traditionally deep squad of a Gregg Poppovich-coached team is not there. Portland has a chance to take advantage of a Spurs team that seems reluctant to go more than eight players deep by punishing the high-minute starters.

Lillard versus Aldridge. While DeMar DeRozan has turned up the heat for the Spurs over their recent winning streak, the most consistent scorer for San Antonio is Aldridge. One night after passing him on the Blazers’ scoring list, Lillard can show off his skills in an important battle for playoff position.

Keeping Collins involved. Zach Collins had a solid defensive showing versus the New Orleans Pelicans, and it was telling that when the team needed defensive stops after Jusuf Nurkic fouled out, Collins was called in over Enes Kanter. With four blocks, including a stop of Julius Randle that sealed the game, Collins is showing why the Blazers can count on him when defense is needed.

What they’re saying

Lee Dresie of Pounding the Rock writes how the Spurs can celebrate their playoff chances and defy the “haters”:

So, if Spurs fans want to do something else for the rest of the regular season, rest assured that the Spurs: (1) are locked into the playoffs, (2) will likely finish seventh, and (3) could open the playoffs in Denver. Or you could just sit back, watch the games, and enjoy this unpredictable but oddly satisfying group of players continue to defy the odds, making Spurs haters groan about their refusal to just go away.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News talked with DeMar DeRozan, who defended the recent actions of Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook:

“We all have some type of reaction, some how, some way at some point,” DeRozan said. “It’s just a matter of whether we got caught on camera with it. It just happens to be a place where Russ had a different altercation with fans and somebody caught in on tape. Sometimes fans are looking to pull reactions out of players and have their camera phones ready. He just happened to be caught on camera.”