Portland Trail Blazers (27-49) vs. San Antonio Spurs (31-45)
The Portland Trail Blazers hit the road one last time this season to face the San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers dropped their last game against the New Orleans Pelicans 117-107, and their prior matchup against the Spurs was a blowout loss 133-96. Against the Pelicans, Drew Eubanks led the offense with 21 points. In their previous game, the Spurs lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 112-111.
Friday, April 1st, 5:30 PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Joe Ingles (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Justise Winslow (out), Josh Hart (out), Trendon Watford (out)
Spurs injuries: Keita Bates-Diop (questionable), Romeo Langford (out)
SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock
What To Watch For
Drew Eubanks. The former Spur has been one of the few bright spots this season for the otherwise struggling Blazers. Though his last outing against the Pelicans didn’t result in a double-double, he’s been racking them up on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for what he can do against his previous team.
Shooting. The Blazers have had moments where they have struggled with their shooting recently, and when they get down in the dumps, they get down and it’s hard for them to come back and recover. If they get into a slump, look for it to have an impact elsewhere on their performance. The reverse is true, too: if they get hot, look for them to clean up their play in other aspects of the game.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. This has been a repeated theme down the stretch. Turnovers cost the Blazers considerably. Against the Pelicans, the Blazers had 20, which allowed the Pels to gain an advantage on the fast break in particular. Turnovers are easily exploited, and if the Blazers can’t keep their hands on the ball, this could be their undoing.
What People Are Saying
According to Jesus Gomez at Pounding the Rock, the Spurs never considered embracing the tank.
The franchise has simply picked a different path back to contention. The plan seems to be to stay competitive while developing young talent and acquiring assets that could eventually be flipped for the type of transcendent star that could help the team make the leap. It’s more similar to the strategy Daryl Morey implemented in Houston before they landed James Harden than what Sam Presti is currently doing in Oklahoma City. And it could work. San Antonio has three first round picks in the upcoming draft, plus some extra second rounders going forward. They have young players on rookie contracts and potential cap space that could make any transaction easy. The White trade showed the front office is willing to pull the trigger. Whether the current road map is a better one than tanking three seasons ago remains to be seen, but it’s too late to turn back now.
Zach Collins is making a comeback from his injuries, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio News-Express.
“I’m just trying to put both ends of the court together,” the 24-year-old Collins said. “I feel like I have probably had some games where one side was good, one side was bad. Maybe a few in between where I was good at both ends.”
Coach Gregg Popovich said Collins was playing the best basketball of his short Spurs tenure during the four-game trip the team swept heading into Wednesday’s home matchup with Memphis.