After their impressive showing in the first round the Trailblazers looked like a more than formidable opponent for the top seeded Spurs. They had the size and speed to match up and it appeared that we were in for an entertaining series. If game one is any indication the hope for this being a great series is in tremendous doubt. The Spurs had a 29 point first quarter and never looked back in their 116-92 win. They beat Portland inside and out and in every other way possible. It will be up to the Portland coaching staff to come up with a new method of defending this hi octane Spurs attack.
The Spurs are one of the most balanced teams in the league and it showed in this game. As usual, Tony Parker was dominant in his role as floor leader with 33 points and 9 assists. It almost doesn’t seem to matter who he is playing with as long as he has the ball in his hands and his teammates are in the right place. Kawhi Leonard was strong and steady as he scored 16 points to go along with 9 rebounds. Tim Duncan had a very quiet double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and perhaps more importantly only played 24 minutes which will save his energy for the remainder of the series. Marco Bellinelli was spectacular off the bench with 19 points including 3-5 from 3-point range. Patty Mills was his usually aggressive self with 10 points.
Due to the level of greatness displayed by LaMarcus Aldridge and the consistency in which young point guard Damian Lillard has played, the key for the Trailblazers was the performances of the role players. In game one the role players failed this test miserably and they will need to step up if they are serious about winning the series. Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and continued his superstar level of play that he has been on all regular season and playoffs long. Lillard had 17 points and while it was not his best game he played well enough for his team to be in the game. Robin Lopez was the only other double figure scorer with 10 points and he is the only member of the starting unit who is not expected to score. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews combined for 15 points and that will not be enough to beat a dominant Spurs team. The entire Trailblazers bench combined for 19 points which isn’t a surprise considering they always rely heavily on their starters.
Portland will need to look to slow the game down if they want to steal a game in San Antonio before heading back home for game 3. Perhaps trying a different look to defend Parker and minimize his trips into the paint. If they can find a way to stay in front of Parker as well as force him into being a passer when he drives they can close the gap tremendously. They will also need much better performances from their role players. Game 2 would be huge for them to come in and steal.
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