How Each Team Got Here:
Spurs beat Mavericks in 7 games
Trail Blazers beat Rockets in 6 games
Split regular season series 2-2
After a long offseason and regular season the Spurs got back to a Game 7, just not the one they ultimately want. That Game 7 will want to be played against the two time, reigning, defending NBA world champion Miami Heat. Who defeated San Antonio in seven games in last year’s NBA Finals. If the two teams do in fact meet up once again in the Finals, it will be San Antonio with home court advantage as it had the best regular season record.
Second year point guard sensation Damian Lillard, along with savvy, skilled big man LaMarcus Aldridge has the Blazers in prime position to make a serious playoff run. The duo along with the rest of the team will have its hands full against the seasoned veterans that are routine contenders, the Spurs. San Antonio must quickly move past it’s Game 7 victory over the Mavericks. Both squads are riding momentum into this series. The Spurs were taken to the brink by an old arch nemesis, before blowing Dallas out in game 7 at home. The Blazers are riding Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating, series-ending shot in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets.
The point guard matchup will be the most intriguing matchup in this series. Both point guards will have to rely on help side defense as the each possess different skill sets. The Spurs will look to make life for Lillard difficult while the Blazers will look to keep Tony Parker out of the lane.
Lillard is looking to cement his name among the top point guards in the NBA after this postseason. In order to do so, he will have to go against one of the best in Tony Parker. Lillard has had good success against the Spurs this year, averaging 25 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and 5.3 rebounds per contest. In the playoffs he is averaging 25.5/6.7/6.3, while shooting 46% from the floor and 49% from beyond the arc. Parker, who doesn’t score like Lillard, has respectable numbers, averaging 16.7 points and 5.7 assists per game, while shooting 50% from the floor. Postseason Tony Parker stepped his scoring up a notch, with 19.9 points and 4.7 assists per game thus far.
Another interesting matchup will be Tim Duncan versus LaMarcus Aldridge. Duncan is playing some of his finest basketball, even at age 38. Aldridge came out guns blazing against Houston, scoring 46 and 43 points respectively in the first two games of the series. Duncan has turned in yet another fantastic postseason, but he isn’t done yet. He knows that the Spurs should have wrapped everything up in game 6 of last year’s Finals, but instead saw Ray Allen force a game 7 and the rest is history. Duncan is averaging 17.3 points and grabbing 8.4 boards per game. He is also playing 34.9 minutes per game, when in the regular season neither he, nor any other member of his team played more than 30 minutes a night. Aldridge has had a tremendous postseason, which started with great performances. He is averaging 29.8 points, 11.2 rebounds along with 2.7 blocks per game in the postseason. Don’t be surprised if we see Tiago Splitter on Aldridge and Robin Lopez matched up with Duncan.
The two biggest questions of this series will be whether or not Manu Ginobili can sustain his success he’s had thus far in the playoffs and whether or not the Portland bench can produce. If both things occur, buckle up for another fun and exciting series. This young, upstart Blazers team is looking to show the world they can hang with and beat the Spurs, while San Antonio will look to remind everyone that just because they are getting older, doesn’t mean it isn’t their yard. This should be a fun series.
Prediction: Spurs in 7