Portland Trail Blazers (11-11) vs. San Antonio Spurs (6-13)
The Portland Trail Blazers have won ten in a row at home and are looking to notch the eleventh against the San Antonio Spurs. They’ll have to do it without their superstar, as Damian Lillard will be sitting out at least four more games with lower abdominal tendinopathy. Dame wasn’t available on Tuesday either, and the Blazers came away 110-92 victors against the Detroit Pistons.
The San Antonio Spurs come into Moda Center with a small bounce to their step. They have won two in a row for the first time this season after defeating the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, both in San Antonio. Their three game road trip starting in Portland will see them face the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns next, so they’ll surely be keying in on this game as the one they need to get.
Thursday, December 2 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out)
Spurs injuries: Zach Collins (out), Doug McDermott (probable), Devin Vassell (probable)
SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock
What To Watch For
Force the Spurs to the perimeter. San Antonio hates to take threes. They take 28.2 per game, last in the NBA. Compare that with the Blazers who take 38.6 per game. The Spurs like to penetrate, and when they are successful at it they can do some damage. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the Spurs lead the league in 2 point FG% at 69.5%. Keeping the Spurs away from the basket has to be a priority.
Life without Lillard. It looks like the Blazers will be with Damian Lillard for at least four more games after sitting out Tuesday night against the Pistons. If Tuesday is anything to go by, expect more minutes for Anfernee Simons, more scoring from CJ McCollum, and another opportunity for Ben McLemore. With the Celtics, Clippers, and Warriors around the corner for the Blazers, establishing roles without Lillard and gaining confidence with the new rotations is helpful. Being able to do it against a team you have a reasonable chance of beating is golden.
Rebounds. The Blazers are best in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage at 75.9%. When you play a young team like the Spurs, you have take care of the fundamentals and not allow the other team to get energy from your mistakes. Second chance points are key for a scrappy team to hang around when maybe they shouldn’t be able to, and the Spurs are fourth in the NBA in that statistic. If Portland can control the defensive glass and thereby prevent second chance points they should be in good position to secure the game.
What Others Are Saying
Jeff Garcia of KENS writes that Thaddeus Young isn’t getting as many minutes as he did in the past as the Spurs rebuild.
Last season, Spurs’ Thaddeus Young averaged 24.3 minutes per game with the Bulls before being traded to San Antonio as part of the DeMar DeRozan trade in the offseason.
This season, his playing time has significantly dropped (15.7 minutes per game) and he admits it’s been frustrating to experience.
August Bembel at Pounding the Rock will get you up to speed on the Spurs’ core rotation.
19 games into the season, let’s draw the curtains on small sample size theater. A bit more than 20 percent of the games of the season have been played, and the Spurs have won a bit more than 30 percent of their games. It’s time have a look at how the core rotation players have done so far statistically, and what that could mean for their future. (All figures per basketball-reference.com except where mentioned.)
Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SSE) are developing a “Human Performance Campus” according KSAT.com.
According to SSE officials, the 504,000-square-foot campus will include a collection of world-class training facilities, cutting-edge healthcare offices, community spaces, a 22-acre park and an outdoor plaza.