The Portland Trail Blazers (17-16, 12-5 home) have no doubt been struggling a bit lately, dropping 4 of their last 5 games at home and 6 of their last 9. However against the visiting San Antonio Spurs (23-9, 10-8 away) tonight, they’ll have a chance to improve on a 6-game winning streak on home court against the NBA’s hottest team dating back to early 2008, and get a shot at stopping San Antonio’s impressive run of victories at 11.
Improving on their consistency will be the biggest challenge for the Trail Blazers keeping their home winning streak alive tonight against the Spurs, as San Antonio have been playing some of the most balanced basketball of any team this season, despite missing contributions from their top 3-pt shooter Manu Ginobli (12.1 points/game) time and time again. Though the Spurs got Ginobli back for a 4-game stretch, it looks as though he’s ready for another 2 week stint on the bench with a strained oblique. That said, it hasn’t stopped the Spurs from reeling off victories night-in and night-out, as they’ve won 6 games prior to his return to action, won 4 games with him in the line-up, and prevailed last night for their 11th victory in a row without him suited up once again. Luckily for the Spurs, their depth of talent has found constant contribution from both their starters and their bench, which has made up for the inconsistent availability of Ginobli this season.
One very big difference during the Spurs’ winning streak has been the stand-up play of Tony Parker (19.5 ppg, 7.9 apg), who has been lighting up the scoreboards in the month of February and continues to get better in each game. In 10 games played this month, Parker has averaged 25.5 points and 8.2 assists per game, and has averaged 29 points and 11.6 assists in the last 3 games. Veteran center Tim Duncan (13.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) has also improved in the 10 games this month, averaging 16.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, and over the past 5 games, Matt Bonner (11.8 ppg vs. 7.8 ppg for the season) and Gary Neal (12.2 ppg vs. 9.5 ppg for the season) have filled in admirably, especially as San Antonio has lost another valuable asset in Tiago Splitter (9.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) for the next two weeks with a strained calf. Though frustrating to lose two major contributors, San Antonio has plenty of depth, is getting better and better performances from their younger players, and is finding a way to win even in close games. With the last 4 games decided by 7 points or less and the Spurs racking up a whopping 107.3 points scored in their last 3 games, San Antonio is finding ways to win under any circumstances, which makes them a huge threat to Portland in tonight’s match-up.
For Portland, allowing San Antonio to score at will as they have done in the past few games will quickly find them behind and likely losing this contest on their home court. What the Blazers have done so well to keep the Spurs winless in 4 years at the Rose Garden is to focus on defense, holding San Antonio to just 90.3 points/game dating back to April of 2008, and once again on the year Portland has been pretty solid against opposing offenses, allowing 92.9 points/game (11th in the NBA). LaMarcus Aldridge (22.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg) again needs to be the leader on defense to clog up the middle against the Spurs’ big men, but most of all Portland needs to see a better all-around game from Raymond Felton (10 ppg, 6.3 apg), who hasn’t fit in very well during his first year with the Blazers. As he’ll be tasked with limiting the effectiveness of Tony Parker, a good night on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball for Felton would certainly improve the Blazers chances of prevailing at home tonight.
On offense Portland can score plenty of points on home court, averaging 102.9 ppg at the Rose Garden, but in losing 4 of their last 5 at home, inconsistent scoring production combined with lackluster defense has been the key to their undoing. Fortunately things are looking up after a solid 97-77 win over Atlanta on Saturday, but they suffered 4 straight home losses prior to that in all different kinds of ways. Playing good defense against the Los Angeles Clippers last Thursday, the offense was the culprit as the Blazers managed only 71 points in a 74-71 loss. Against Washington the game prior to that a complete defensive collapse was to blame as they allowed a massive 124 points to the Wizards. Portland needs to find a groove on offense against San Antonio tonight, and will need all, not just one or two, of their top scorers to be at their best. The Blazers have an impressive 6 players scoring in double digits, but must especially see bigger efforts from Gerald Wallace (23 points in his last 3 games combined), Jamal Crawford (10.2 ppg in his last 5 games, from 14.1 ppg for the season), and Raymond Felton (7.4 ppg in his last 5). Without these guys contributing, and without them putting in another solid defensive effort, the confidence of the Spurs heading into tonight’s match-up will see them ride to their 12th straight victory, and snap their losing running road losing streak.
Betting Lines for the Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs at Bookmaker Sportsbook
Heading into this exciting match-up this evening, we’re checking out the betting lines for the Spurs vs. Trail Blazers game at Bookmaker Sportsbook, one of the top online sportsbooks reviewed here on our website.
On the money line, the visiting Spurs find themselves as +160 underdogs, while the host side Portland Trail Blazers sit at -190 favorites to win straight up.
Against the Spread, 4 points separates the two teams, with San Antonio getting +4 points at -110 odds, and Portland needing to make up 4 points at the same odds.
The over/under for tonight’s contest stands at 189 points, and with the way the Blazers have been playing defense at home in the last 2 games (75.5 points), this match-up could be a slowed down affair that could find the under mark as the way to go. However, with the Spurs coming in scoring huge amounts in their last 3 games (107.3 points), and with Portland averaging 102.9 points at home and having all their players in action for tonight’s contest, I like a stab at the over total points wager, banking on a faster paced game dictated by the Spurs’ Tony Parker.
Our Pick to Win:
I love a good opportunity to see a streak get broken, and for the Spurs who sit on 11 straight wins overall and 8 straight wins on the road, now looks like the right time for them to overcome their losing ways in Portland by getting their first win at the Rose Garden in 4 years. Despite playing without Manu Ginobli and Tiago Splitter, San Antonio continues to find ways to win, getting confident, balanced play on both sides of the ball. While Portland may be the favorite tonight, and has the healthier team overall, their inconsistency is slightly unappealing, especially against the most consistent team in the NBA at the moment. Either way this game falls, San Antonio looks to be a great underdog pick at least against the spread, as this should be a tightly contested game with two streaks on the line. That said, I’m siding with the Spurs to stay hot on the road, outscore the Blazers, and keep their NBA-best winning streak alive and well. San Antonio 101, Portland 98.