NBA Playoffs 2014 - Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Game 3
The Spurs are arguably the most balanced team in the playoffs. They use a wide variety of players off the bench and can go on a run at any point in the game. In game 2 it started in the second quarter when Boris Diaw scored 6 straight points to spark a 23-8 run that extended The Spurs lead to 54-36 midway through the period. This second quarter was similar to that of game one in which the Spurs also went on a run. The Spurs pretty much cruised from there in the 114-97 beating and they took a stranglehold of the series.
For the Spurs Kawhi Leonard was dominant from the start and scored 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter. He also hit a late three pointer when Portland was attempting to make a run in the fourth quarter. Tiago Splitter has been the unsung hero of the series thanks to the defensive job that he has done on Lamarcus Aldridge. He held Portland’s rising star to 16 points on 6-23 from the field. He uses his strength to keep him out of the paint and forces Aldridge out of his comfort zone. Tony Parker was his usually spectacular self with 16 points and 10 assists as well as 5 rebounds. Splitter had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Duncan had a quiet 10 points and 6 rebounds. Off the bench Manu Ginobili, who has begun to look like he is 10 years younger, finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Veteran Marco Bellinelli also had 13 points and Boris Diaw finished with 12 points as the team completed an all round team performance.
The Trailblazers were led in scoring by Nicolas Batum who finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds in 44 minutes. Aldridge had his 16 points on a poor shooting night as well as 10 rebounds. Damian Lillard played well with 19 points along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Wesley Matthews had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists to round out the starters in double figures. Will Barton played well off the bench with 13 points on 5-5 from the field and may be in line for more minutes in game 3. Portland is heavily reliant on its starting unit and will need to get some production from its bench if they want to have a real chance at coming back in the series. The bench players don’t have to be stars but they will have to find a way to contribute in the few minutes they do receive.
The Trailblazers will be very happy to finally get a chance to play in front of their home crowd. They have an electric fan base and they may be the “shot in the arm” that the team needs to get going. They will have to continue to keep up with the pace of the Spurs and find a way to slow them down.
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