The Trailblazers went into their series with the Houston Rockets as the underdogs. In what was a highly competitive and entertaining series they were able to advance to the semi-finals on the strength of a buzzer beating three pointer by sensational point guard Damian Lillard. The series showed that they are a team capable of competing at both ends of the floor. It also showed that power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has emerged as one of the top 10 players in the NBA.
The Spurs has an up and down 7 game series against the veteran Dallas Mavericks. Having to regroup after losing to a three point buzzer beater of their own by the Mavericks Vince Carter they found a way to get back on track and won game 7 in a blow out. Setting up a series between two teams with many similarities.
Point Guard- Tony Parker vs. Damian Lillard
When the top point guard in the NBA discussion is had, oftentimes Parker is not mentioned and that is a disgrace. He is a 4-time NBA champion and is playing as well as he ever has. He has adjusted his role over the years to do whatever he and Coach Greg Popovich thought was best for the team. Lillard has been nothing short of sensational in these playoffs and for most of his brief NBA career. He takes a a lot of shots however that is his role in the offense. His assist totals aren’t ideal for a point guard however he makes up for it in other ways.
Advantage- San Antonio
Shooting Guard- Danny Green vs. Wesley Matthews
While neither player produces eye-popping numbers, they could easily make a huge impact on both ends of the floor. Matthews is a strong defender who will get open 3 point looks with the attention being paid to Aldridge and Lillard. Green showed last season how effective he can be as a spot up shooter. He has made many big shots in the playoffs and will be expected to do it again.
Small Forward – Nicholas Batum vs. Kawhi Leonard
Batum is one of the best defensive players in the league and he will need to be on his game in order to help stop Leonard and Manu Ginobili throughout the series. Leonard is a matchup nightmare and has the ability to take a game over with his versatility and strength.
Advantage- San Antonio
Power Forward- Tim Duncan vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
This is a matchup of two of the best big men in the game today. Duncan remains one of the best players in the league despite his age and reduced minutes. He is an elite interior defender and low post scorer. Aldridge is an all around superstar. He has added range to his jump shot and can now score from anywhere on the floor. In a series with multiple Hall of Famers he is the best player on the court.
Advantage- Trail Blazers
Center – Tiago Splitter vs. Robin Lopez
Lopez biggest impact may be that he allows Aldridge to pay his natural position of Power Forward. He is a strong rebounder and a huge defensive presence in the low post. Splitter has to play well at the start of games in order to stay on the floor due to the Spurs depth.
This matchup isn’t even close. Portland’s starters led the league in minutes played per game while the Spurs were last. The Spurs use Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills consistently and matchup with others depending on matchups. Mo Williams and Thomas Robinson are the only players who see consistent minutes for Portland
This should be a great matchup of two teams that play traditional basketball lineups featuring 2 post players. It’s a series of the past vs. the present.
Series Pick- Spurs in 7
Game 1 pick
Take Portland +6.5
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