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San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview

Portland has a chance for an (unwelcome?) season sweep against the Spurs.

Portland Trail Blazers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs (20-59) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (33-46)

The Portland Trail Blazers travel to Austin today to take on the lowly San Antonio Spurs. Neither team’s front office really wants to win this one, but players have a way of damaging the best laid plans. If it comes down to it the Blazers have perhaps more at stake as their top pick odds could be altered with a win.

The San Antonio Spurs enter this game having lost seven of their last eight games. The one win was an overtime win against the Sacramento Kings, demonstrating that even the best tankers have an off day. The Blazers have won all three previous meetings this season, so a win would complete a season sweep for whatever that’s worth. Which team wants it less? We’ll find out this evening!

San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Thursday, April 6 - 5:00 p.m. PT

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

Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jerami Grant (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Damian Lillard (out), Keon Johnson (out), Nassir Little (out), Matisse Thybulle (doubtful), Cam Reddish (questionable), Shaedon Sharpe (questionable), Trendon Watford (questionable), Drew Eubanks (probable), Kevin Knox II (probable)

Spurs injuries: Charles Bassey (out), Khem Birch (out), Doug McDermott (out), Jeremy Sochan (out), Devin Vassell (out), Devonte’ Graham (out), Zach Collins (probable), Keldon Johnson (questionable), Romeo Langoford (questionable)

SBN Affiliate: Pounding the Rock

The Matchup

  • Playing within the Austin City Limits. The Spurs have been thought to be on their way out of San Antonio dozens of times over the years, but in San Antonio they remain. But not tonight. The Spurs are closing their home schedule with two games in Austin, the first one on Thursday against the Blazers. This is going to be a strange game regardless of location (see the injury reports above), but the unfamiliar court and locker rooms will add a little more to what is certain to be an unusual evening.
  • Just who is going to be playing? The Blazers have an entire legal-sized roster on the injury report (14), while the Spurs add another 9 of their own. A few of those players on the report will play of course, but the majority won’t. Spare a thought for the announcers who are frantically memorizing jersey numbers in preparation because there will be a lot of unfamiliar faces.
  • No one is going to win this one by making free throws. The Spurs have made the fewest free throws in the NBA and are second-worst in free throw percentage. Maybe the Blazers can find an advantage from the charity stripe? Not so fast. Over the last five games the Blazers have made the fewest free throws in the league and are 27th in percentage over that span. If trends hold no one is going to get to the free throw line and if they do, they are pretty likely to miss.

What Others Are Saying

Just because the Spurs are playing a few games in Austin doesn’t mean that they are going to be moving any time soon according to Michael Karlis of the San Antonio Current.

Even so, Popovich and Spurs CEO R.C. Buford have assured fans that the Spurs are in the Alamo City for the long term. With construction of the Spur’s new training facility, the $500 million Rock at La Cantera sports complex, well underway, the numbers also suggest the team has made a lengthy commitment.

Marilyn Dubinski of Pounding the Rock looks for clues about whether Greg Popovich will retire after this season.

Even if they don’t land the top overall pick, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few other extremely intriguing players for Pop to work with. If nothing else, he has also stated in the past that he doesn’t want to pass a rebuilding team to another coach and make them bear the responsibility of the many losses that comes with it, and if that is the case, his job isn’t done yet no matter who the Spurs land in the draft.

A perfect trade? Quenton Albertie of Clutchpoints writes the Spurs need to get KAT.

With that in mind, the Spurs still need to make themselves competitive in the future.

There may no better way to do that then to trade Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Zach Collins and draft compensation to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for All-Star forward Karl Anthony-Towns.