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Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview

Another one.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (27-50) vs. San Antonio Spurs (32-45)

The Portland Trail Blazers face the San Antonio Spurs for the second game of their last road trip of the season. In their last meetup, the Spurs beat the Blazers 130-111. Despite missing Dejounte Murray, the rest of the Spurs squad stepped up to get the win. For the Blazers, Keon Johnson had 20 points.

Sunday, April 3rd, 4:00 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), Dejounte Murray (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock

What To Watch For

Defense. The Blazers struggled on the defensive end against the Spurs during their previous meeting, especially in the second quarter. Several Spurs were left wide open, and as a result, San Antonio went on quite a run. Portland needs to step up on defense or they can expect San Antonio to do the same thing.

Pace. When the Blazers are able to take control of the pace of the game, they tend to perform better than not. When they played the New Orleans Pelicans, that ability to manage the tempo helped them hang with the Pels. In the last meetup with the Spurs, however, they lost control of the pace prior to the second quarter, which, well, see above.

What Are We Playing For, Again? The tank, obviously. The last loss eliminated the Blazers from playoff contention, and they can no longer get ahead of the Spurs in the conference standings as they are five games behind. Given the position the Blazers are in, there’s no real reason to win games beyond pride.

What People Are Saying

The Spurs are ready to go with the playoffs on the line, according to the Associated Press.

“We’re locking in,” said Spurs center Zach Collins, who was a rebound shy of his first career double-double. “All these games are super important right now. We’re all fighting to get in the playoffs. This is a part of us growing, but also that sense of urgency.”

Manu Ginobili was surprised to receive a Hall of Fame nod, reports Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News.

“You start playing ball because you love it, because it’s fun, because you are there with your friends – in my case, because it was almost a family mandate,” Ginobili said. “We were all by the club and we all played and we loved it and we talked about it and we just carry on. And that passion, that drive starts to build up and one thing brings to the other one.

“And now when I thought there would be no more surprises after my career was done, you get recognition like this, which makes you think, go back a little bit in time and relive your story. And it’s incredible.”