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Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview

Back at home to take on the young Spurs.

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (9-4) vs. San Antonio Spurs (6-8)

Home sweet home. The Portland Trail Blazers finished a very productive 4-2 road trip with a 117-112 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Given the injuries, duration of the road trip and quality of the opponent, no one is too concerned about a reasonably well-fought defeat in the Big D. Portland now gets three games at home before packing their bags again.

The San Antonio Spurs are on a five-game road trip, but this is just their second game of their itinerary. However, the game against Portland will be the second of a back-to-back for them. On Monday, the Spurs got their hats handed to them by the Golden State Warriors 132-95. After starting the season with a surprising 5-2 record, they’ve come back to earth by going 1-6 since then. This was never supposed to be a contending year for the Spurs and this current run has some fans dreaming of a certain very tall Frenchman.

Spurs vs. Trail Blazers - Tuesday, November 15 - 7:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Sarr (out), Jusuf Nurkic (questionable), Justise Winslow (questionable), Keon Johnson (questionable)

Spurs injuries: Zach Collins (out), Romeo Langford (out), Blake Wesley (out), Malaki Branham (out), Tre Jones (out)

SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock

The Matchup

  • Charity Stripe Advantage The Spurs are dead last in the NBA in free throws made and 27th in free throw attempts. The Blazers meanwhile have been elite at getting to the line. They are third in free throw attempts and second in free throw makes. The only negative in this story is that Portland’s free throw percentage isn’t great. They currently sit at 22nd in the league at 76.2%.
  • Tre Jones Jones sat out the game against Golden State, and boy did the Spurs miss him. Without his floor general presence, San Antonio had a season-low 18 assists and generally looked like they were playing with four players instead of five. As of Monday night there is no word on whether Jones will play, but if he doesn’t or isn’t at full strength it will give Portland a significant advantage. If he does play, Portland will want to make life difficult for him as he seems more and more like the guy who makes the whole thing work for the Spurs.
  • Pace Blazers fans who had been starved of fast break basketball for many years might not realize it, but so far this season the Blazers have played at a slow pace. They are 28th in the NBA at 97.11 possessions per game. The Spurs are 6th at 102.13. The good news is that Portland has demonstrated that they can play at a high pace when the other team is sloppy with the ball. If the Spurs insist on pushing the pace that may work to the Blazers advantage.

What Others Are Saying

CoachSpins of SBNation looks at how the Spurs’ wings are fairing.

In the half-court, two players have emerged as breakout candidates, auditioning for the long-term role as frontman. Keldon Johnson has increased his scoring load a tad but drastically changed the manner in which he plays, handling pick-and-rolls and serving as a reliable three-point threat. Devin Vassell, a 2020 first-round pick, has become their mid-range maestro while continuing to drill shots from deep and play sensational defense. Both have come out of the gates and hit that respectable 20-point-per-game mark.

Popovich is building for the future according to Riley Sheppard of Sports Illustrated.

And while this years team may not make it championship number six for the longtime coach, it is building the foundation for when the franchise is ready to be a contender once again.

Charles Bassey, a two-way player picked up after the 76ers released him, is turning heads according to Marilyn Dubinski of Pounding the Rock.

Then, the opportunity for playing time in San Antonio opened up after backup center Zach Collins, who is having a resurgent year of his own, suffered a stress fracture in his left leg. It initially felt like a big setback for the team, but Bassey has stepped right in and filled his shoes, averaging 6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 blocks while being +23 points when on the court over the last three games. His play in the first two games was already opening some eyes, with highlight reel-worthy blocks and dunks, but he really exploded onto the scenes last night against the Bucks, where he made a little NBA history along the way:

The Trail Blazers will tip off against the Spurs at 7:00PM, Pacific. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on SlingTV.