Trail Blazers vs Spurs Saturday, 11/10/12 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Look To Bounce Back Against Tough Spurs

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0


    After a rough first half buried them against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Trail Blazers’ schedule does not get any easier as they welcome the always great, but somehow always forgotten San Antonio Spurs (5-1). The game will tip-off at 7PM and will be shown on KGW and can be heard on the radio on 1190 KEX and 102.3 FM.

    •    Defense must turnaround for Portland. After the Trail Blazers most recent game they were ranked 27th in opponents effective Field Goal percentage (eFG%), a shooting statistic that takes into account the added value of the three point shot. Teams have an eFG% of 53.5 when playing against the Trail Blazers. At times against the Clippers their ball-handlers were getting into the interior with ease and DeAndre Jordan, not a very heralded offensive force, was camped around the basket. Portland also currently ranks 26th in the league in defensive rating, giving up 109.2 points per 100 defensive possessions. The Spurs are always patient in getting the best available shot and currently have the 10th best offensive rating, averaging 104.4 points per 100 possessions They, like the Clippers, also have one of the league’s sixth-best eFG%’s at 51.7%.

    •    Portland needs to get out into the open floor. Players like Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews have shown that they are at their best when running the floor and LaMarcus Aldridge and JJ Hickson are very mobile bigs. It seems Damian Lillard is comfortable in any style but getting the wings on the loose is instrumental to Portland’s offensive success. As Nic Batum said after their loss on Thursday, if they can’t run it is tough for them to get buckets. Portland must get stops and San Antonio had a rough offensive night against the Clippers on Wednesday. They had a much better offensive outing against the Kings last night. If Portland can get out into transition, something that is contingent on getting stops on defense, they will be able to put themselves in good position to knock of the West’s best team. San Antonio shoots well but is 21st in the league in turnover percentage. That is good news for Portland, especially Nicolas Batum who is averaging 2.8 steals per game, good for fourth in the NBA. If Portland gets into another funk offensively, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, Coach Stotts will turn to on the Trail Blazers bench to get buckets. Although, Stotts has not spoken about it, names like Luke Babbitt and Will Barton come to mind as opposed to more defensive minded players like Sasha Pavlovic.

    •    Thus far, according to Basketball Reference’s strength of schedule rating, the Trail Blazers have played the sixth hardest schedule in the league and that is before they play the team with the best record in the Western Conference.

    •    This game will be full of another set of juicy match-ups. Damian Lillard will go against another elite point guard in Tony Parker. Parker has played at an MVP level the past few seasons and the match-up against he and Parker will be another challenge for the rookie. However, if Parker is having his way much like Chris Paul had his way the previous night, it would be a shock to no one to see Nicolas Batum guarding his friend and French National Team teammate. The other intriguing match-up will be between LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan. Duncan has looked better than he has in a few years, flashing some of the athleticism many had thought he had lost. Duncan is averaging 17.4 and 9.4 rebounds. Duncan has also been more of a defensive force this year. Aldridge comes into the game averaging 20.4 points per game, tied for ninth in the NBA.

    •    Portland must continue to take care of the ball. Although their offense has been stagnant at times, the Trail Blazers have the league’s fourth best turnover percentage. They haven’t been able to translate being smart with the ball into offensive production, however. Additionally, Portland struggled mightily last game from the free-throw line which is something they will need to change against one of the league's best all-around teams.

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