It’s Never Too Late To Talk About A Win In Portland
San Antonio 111, Portland 109
I finally got to watch the Spurs beat the Blazers. As in, last Wednesday; and, as in, just in general. It’s a pretty rare thing, so let’s talk about it a bit, shall we?:
–A lot of the talk after the game was about Patty Mills continued torrid scoring. I think the game really had 3 stars, though: Mills, Belinelli, and Ginobili. Marco hit some huge shots at the end of each half to get us back in the game and to give us some much needed separation, and also had some big plays on 50/50 balls (and that pass to Splitter!). And Manu’s quarterbacking in the 3rd quarter (when he got the start along with Mills) helped us to build a cushion and keep the offense rolling along. Between these 3, we had at least one offensive player going most all game, and that was critical down the stretch against such a potent offensive team and missing so many of our key players.
–Danny Green also had a very nice “Danny Green Game”. Some big 3s; but, more importantly, some really clutch defensive plays. He is probably one of the 3 or 4 best shot-blocking guards in the game, and always plays big around the rim for his position.
–Splitter also looked really good in his first game back in action after a few weeks off. As we close out the regular season, I hope he stays healthy to get into a nice rhythm heading into the playoffs. His role in the team’s defense is critical.
–What impressed me most is that the line-ups that closed out the game in the final minutes for the Spurs only featured one player that would see action at the end of games with a healthy roster. (Manu didn’t play at the end of the game, probably already having reached a minutes limit.) Assuming a healthy team, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and Leonard are almost certainly playing the end of close playoff games. None of those 4 players played in the last 6 minutes of the Blazers game. I was really proud of the composure and execution the team showed down the stretch in getting the win. Even down Aldridge, a win in Portland is pretty huge.
–Looking broader, Nando De Colo saw his last playing time with the Spurs in this game. The Spurs traded him on Thursday for Austin Daye from the Raptors. While this trade really has no real implications for the Spurs (swapping an end of the bench player for another end of the bench player; if we’re relying on either for big minutes in the playoffs, we’ve already lost), it makes sense. The Spurs are well stocked with bigs and with smalls, and are threadbare behind Leonard for SF. Daye provides a better fit for the Spurs roster than De Colo did. I hope Nando gets a chance to prove himself in Toronto.
–Now the roster attention turns to possible buyouts, players that can sign with contenders for the rest of the season. Shannon Brown’s second 10-day contract is up, meaning if the Spurs sign him again, it will have to be for the rest of the season. Personally, I didn’t think he brought much to the team, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs keep that spot open in the chances of landing a player like Danny Granger (if he’s bought out) or some other player that could add more value in a playoff run. We’ll see what the market looks like over the coming week or so.
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