The San Antonio Spurs are one win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals for a third consecutive year. After being taken all the way to Game 7 by the Dallas Mavericks in the opening series, the Spurs now look to put a young, up-and-coming Portland team to rest for the season.
The Trail Blazers came into this series with a ton of momentum. That momentum has since vanished due to the terrific play of the Spurs.
If Portland can find a way to somehow tie this series, it will be a feat of itself, let alone winning the series. If the Trail Blazers can pull off the monumental comeback, they would be in very select company as no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the series. Only three teams in NBA history who trailed 3-0 in a series have forced a Game 7. Those teams are the 1951 New York Knicks in the NBA Finals against the Rochester Royals, the 1998 Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz and the 2003 Trail Blazers in the Western Conference quarter finals against the Mavericks.
The Spurs have been rolling on all cylinders since blowing out the Mavericks in Game 7 of the opening round series. Head Coach Gregg Popovich thinks that the seven game series with Dallas helped his team finally get back in playoff mode. This was due in large part to the starters getting more rest down the final stretch of the regular season. Now this team filled with savvy veterans will look to put an end to the young Blazers’ title hopes.
Tony Parker has played some of his best basketball in the first three games of the series. He came out of the gates with 33 points and 9 assists in Game 1. He followed that up with a 16 point, 10 assist game in Game 2 and then 29 points and 6 assists in Game 3 (20 of his points came in the first half). Tim Duncan has averaged 13.6 points and 8 rebounds per game. Manu Ginobili, after having a poor 2 point Game 1, has bounced back with 16 and 14 respectively in the next two games. Kawhi Leonard has had a productive series averaging 17 points per contest.
The biggest reason this series is 3-0 in favor of San Antonio is the bench scoring. The Spurs’ bench has outscored the Blazers’ bench 140-43, including 40-6 in Game 3. San Antonio is 14-3 on the road in potential closeout games. The last loss the team suffered was in the NBA Finals a year ago, when they blew a late 5 point lead and allowed the Heat to force a Game 7 and eventually win the NBA championship.
Portland has its back against the wall, as they have a gigantic hole to dig out of. For those thinking the Blazers have nothing to lose, think again. The Blazers have a series and season to lose. With that said, you can’t win three in a row, let alone four in a row without winning the first one. The championship pedigree has been on full display from the Spurs and they will look to close out this young Portland team.