The Scouting Report: San Antonio Spurs
In an attempt to help you get to know the Blazers opponent each night, we are going to post a little bit of a scouting report of each team on the blog before each game. Saturday’s (November 2nd) opponent are the San Antonio Spurs (2-0). Tip-off will be at 7 P.M at the Moda Center for the home opener it will be shown locally on KGW. For those out of market, the NBA League Pass free preview goes through November 5th. It will be available on radio on 620 AM.
Projected starting line-up: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan (questionable with chest contusion, if he does not play, look for Boris Diaw to start like he did last night).
New faces: Jeff Ayers (formerly Pendergraph), Marco Belinelli (free agency signing, with Chicago last year)
After a season where we saw teams change a great deal, the Spurs were once again the exception to the rule.
28 seconds away from a title only to have it slip away in the final moments of Game 6 of the Finals, the Spurs have come back to make another push for a fifth title in the Duncan-Poppovich era. They brought back Manu Ginobili with a two-year $14.5 million deal in the summer. They also added Belinelli to replace some of the the scoring bench they lost from their bench with the departure of Gary Neal to Milwaukee.
They added former Blazer and Pacers player, Jeff Ayers, to add bench depth behind Duncan and Diaw.
Through two games, the Spurs look like the same Spurs they’ve always been. What makes them even scarier this year is the evolution of Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard went toe-to-toe with the Heat and was the Spurs leading rebounder in the series. Aside from not making all of his free-throws in Game 6, Leonard had a series to be remembered in a great battle against LeBron James.
Leonard had 15 points and 11 rebounds despite missing all of his threes last night against the Lakers.
The Spurs are still the Spurs. They run their offense to a T and they have great spacing allowing for Ginobili and Parker to create off the dribble and Leonard to make cuts to the basket. They execute on offense and also play great defense as a team and feature one of the best perimeter defenders in the league in Leonard.
Splitter is a great finisher and solid defender and the Spurs re-signed him in the offseason to a 4-year deal that totals over $36 million.
They are still a great team and still have a great shot to come out with the West’s best record especially while Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook is out for a few more weeks.
Tim Duncan sat out on Friday with a chest contusion and Diaw started in his place.
One thing to watch tonight is if the Spurs throw in Matt Bonner to stretch out the Portland defense and how Portland handles that challenge after showing trouble against shooting big men in Phoenix.
The Trail Blazers challenges in their first mini-road trip were more about themselves than the teams they were playing. Now they come to open the season in-front of the Rip City faithful against the best franchise in the Western Conference, and perhaps best franchise in the league of the last 15 years.