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Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview

Two squads fighting to get back into playoff contention face off in Portland.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (23-28) vs. San Antonio Spurs (22-28)

February 6, 2020 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out), Nassir Little (out)
Spurs injuries: None
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock

Two perennial playoff pugilists face off in the Rose City as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome in their old nemesis in the San Antonio Spurs.

The less said about Portland’s last game, the better. They were blown out against the Denver Nuggets 127-99. Damian Lillard scored 23, but was hounded all game by a ferocious and motivated Denver defense. Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets.

San Antonio has struggled mightily of late, winning just two of their last seven games. They were swept in the Los Angeles series, losing to the Clippers on Feb. 3 before being obliterated against the Lakers on Tuesday, 129-102. DeMar DeRozan put up 28 points, but the Spurs had no answer for LeBron James, who scored 36.

What to watch for

  • Backup center. Portland has had issues with whoever is tasked to guard the paint when Hassan Whiteside sits this season. Caleb Swanigan has been serviceable on offense, but is largely ineffective on defense. Hopefully, the Blazers might be getting some help soon in the form of Skal Labissiere, who is approaching his four-week reevaluation that was announced on Jan. 8. Having him back will be a huge boost. In his absence, Portland needs to find a way to contain Jakob Poeltl and Trey Lyles with Swanigan, the big they traded in exchange for Labissiere last season.
  • Combating Aldridge. Portland will again face off against their former leader, and LaMarcus Aldridge still continues to be a difficult matchup for the Blazers. With Trevor Ariza presumably guarding DeRozan, Aldridge will either face Carmelo Anthony, whom he can control in the post, or Whiteside, whom he can pull away from the basket. Last time these teams played, Aldridge had 30 points and 13 rebounds. Stopping him is key.
  • Ignite McCollum. CJ McCollum has been off the last several games and struggled to find consistency this season as a whole. While his three-point shot seems to be recovering, his drive and midrange games have fallen back. Getting McCollum back on the scoring track that he is capable of will take pressure off Lillard, who will see a similar press defense against the Spurs that he saw against Denver.

What they’re saying

Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock took a look at San Antonio’s trade deadline prospects:

The Spurs are typically very secretive and unlikely to make deals mid season. There have been rumors in the past about the Heat and the Magic being interested in DeMar DeRozan, with Miami also potentially being a destination for LaMarcus Aldridge, but no new reports have surfaced as the deadline closes in.

Mark Dunphy of the San Antonio Express-News talked more about the Spurs, and their reluctance to make in-season trades:

If Gregg Popovich and his front office decide to look for new faces or future picks, they have several assets to work with. Forward DeMarre Carroll did not travel with the team for the start of the rodeo road trip, and San Antonio is also reportedly shopping Marco Belinelli.