Right now? This is looking like a sweep. The San Antonio Spurs keep coming up with new ways to make the Portland Trail Blazers feel and look like they don’t belong at this stage of the playoffs, beating them 114-97 through a dominant performance from Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Spurs are simply getting open shots while doing a great job on LaMarcus Aldridge. The Portland Trail Blazers have short spurts of some impressive offensive, but it never lasts long enough to really dent the big leads the Spurs are able to build very early on, and they can’t seem to get anything going their way on defense. After what the Spurs had to go through against the Mavs, suddenly the Blazers almost feel like a D-League team with their defense.
Leonard started scorching hot with 12 points in the first quarter, finishing with 20. He was a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, as the Spurs once again shot extremely well (53.3% from the field, 60% from beyond the arc) and turned the ball over only 8 times, making it impossible for the Blazers to generate any kind of transition offense, once again limited to only 10 points on fast breaks and 36 in the paint.
Tiago Splitter isn’t the most noticeable player on this Spurs roster but his defense on Tiago Splitter is worth mentioning again and again. Aldridge was able to destroy the Rockets time after time in the first round series, but he shot only 26.1% from the field for 16 points in the game 2 loss. With Splitter guarding him he was at his worse, limited to 2-of-14 from the field and was 0-for-10 on post up moves, most of them against Splitter.
Manu Ginobili scored 16 points off the bench in another impressive display of his acrobatics with the ball, and Tony Parker scored 16 as well. Marco Belinelli seemed to enjoy more than anyone the ability to move the ball and find open shooters, scoring 13 points. The Spurs shot 52% on jump shots, getting 17 of them uncontested. Belinelli is averaging 11.5 points on jump shots against the Blazers compared to 1.9 when facing the Mavs.
Good signs for the Blazers? Not a lot, but some. Damian Lillard did well when he wasn’t trying to force 3-pointers, scoring 19 points. Nicolas Batum had a very good shooting day, leading his team with 21 points on 9-of-13 from the field. Using smaller lineups with Thomas Robinson instead of Robin Lopez might be something they should try more, as it makes things slightly more difficult for the Spurs.
Overall? This series looks like one huge mismatch. Not with specific players guarding others, but generally the overall ability of the Spurs to find holes and gaps in the Blazers defense time after time is making this series into something of a dull one. Yes, the basketball is fast-paced and we’re getting high scoring games. However, unless the Blazers find a way to defend more efficiently, it’ll be a swift and disappointing visit to the conference semifinals.