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Know Your Enemy: 5 Questions with Pounding the Rock

We get some insight heading into tonight’s game.

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

In order to get a bit more insight on the current state of affairs of tonight’s opponent, the San Antonio Spurs, we spoke to Pounding the Rock writer and editor Noah Magaro-George.

You can follow Noah on Twitter @N_Magaro.

Thank you Noah for participating in our Q&A.

1. San Antonio has started the year off 6-13. Is that record reflective of how the team has performed so far this season?

Magaro-George: San Antonio is a team somewhere in between a rebuild and fighting for a play-in spot. The Spurs lack a franchise cornerstone they can run the offense through when things come screeching to a halt but have enough talent and skill to pull out a victory here and there. With a league-worst three-point and free-throw rate, the Silver and Black must be nearly perfect in every other facet of the game. The Spurs are at their best when they execute on the defensive end, and they are 5-1 when they hold their opponents under 100 points.

2. When should former Blazer Zach Collins join the lineup?

Magaro-George: Gregg Popovich told reporters that the team expects Zach Collins to be ready to play sometime after Christmas, but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if he doesn’t log many minutes once he returns. Collins hasn’t played basketball in over a year, and Pop typically takes things slow with new additions even when they arrive fully healthy. Sweat equity still plays a significant role in who gets minutes and who doesn’t, which is probably why Drew Eubanks has maintained his spot in the rotation as the first big off the bench over Thaddeus Young, despite the latter providing a steadier hand on both ends.

3. If the Spurs pull out a win in Portland, why would that be the case?

Magaro-George: The Spurs play an unselfish brand of hoops predicated on taking care of the ball, keeping their opponent off the line, and forcing turnovers. And they can pick up a dub tomorrow if they can hold CJ McCollum and Norman Powell in check while ensuring the rest of their supporting cast doesn’t light them up from beyond the arc.

4. What is one thing that Blazers fans should know about the Spurs that they wouldn’t find in a box score?

Magaro-George: This rendition of the Spurs plays with more energy than any San Antonio team in recent memory. Dejounte Murray is relentless at the point of attack, Derrick White willing to lay his body on the line to draw a charge, Jakob Poeltl isn’t afraid to meet anyone at the rim, and Keldon Johnson probably leads the league in “AAAAAAHS” per game. Their enthusiasm is palpable and infectious, and I’m not sure it’s quantifiable by any numbers.

5. What is your prediction for the game?

Magaro-George: You never want to pencil in a win before the game starts, but San Antonio’s odds of walking away victorious have grown exponentially with the recent news that Damian Lillard will sit out this matchup. The Spurs also announced Devin Vassell and Doug McDermott are probable for Thursday night, which bodes well for a team that has struggled to knock down many shots from the outside as of late.