The San Antonio Spurs (7-4) will host the Portland Trail Blazers (7-3) tonight at the AT&T Center as the Spurs will look to continue their dominance in San Antonio where they are undefeated (7-0) this season.
However, Portland does seem to have the Spurs' number. The Blazers are 9-2 against the Spurs in the last 11 meetings which includes a current 3-0 record against San Antonio. And if that wasn't enough, Portland is the only team in the NBA that has won the season series from San Antonio in each of the last three seasons going 3-1, 3-0 and 3-1.
To make matters worse for San Antonio, Portland has not allowed the Spurs to reach 100 points since December 2, 2007, a streak of 12 games.
To discuss tonight's game, I turned to Sophia Brugato of Pinwheel Empire, the best site on the Internet for all things Blazers. I highly recommend you checking out her site.
In this Q&A, Sophia discusses what has Portland playing so well this season, the outstanding play of LaMarcus Aldridge, what it will take for the Blazers to escape San Antonio with a win and much more.
Jeff: Despite losing Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, Portland is playing some nice ball and appear to be a legit threat in the NBA's Western Conference. What can you pinpoint to the Blazers' early success?
Sophia: The Blazers are doing well because their defense has improved immensely. While the Blazers have never been a great defensive team, this year, they have (miraculously? Kidding.) increased their efficiency in guarding the perimeter and Marcus Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Gerald Wallace have helped make getting inside the paint to score far more difficult.
The Blazers are also rebounding a lot better, too. Add the defense and rebounding to the quicker pace, which lead to increased shot attempts, the Blazers are winning.
It's another season without Oden. Sure Portland signed him for this season but is it clear to Blazers fans that Oden will never set foot on the court or are Blazers fans still holding out hope everything pans out?
I cannot speak for all fans, however many of Portland faithful I have no doubt have simply refused to deal with the "Oden Situation," meaning many have blocked it out and tried to enjoy things as they are. Oden hasn't been on the court in so long , it's hard to be upset when there are more setbacks.
I think we all just hope he gets healthy enough to have some semblance of a career -anywhere, really- and that he finds some sort of peace through all of his trials. Because clearly, this all has to be harder on Oden than anyone else.
LaMarcus Aldridge is playing outstanding basketball. What has been his most significant improvement on the court for Portland?
Well, this improvement you are seeing started last season, and in big part i think it is because he has matured a lot.He has let go of much of his hesitancy-although he does have his moments- and really made improvements to his post game. He's still a beautiful shooter and when he's on, that 16 footer is almost un-guard-able .
Gerald Wallace is reportedly not going to resign with the Blazers. If true, why?
It is not that he has REFUSED to Re-sign, he is simply not going to consider extension and signing options(all of them) until the summer.
It's a tough season and new CBA rules give him more leverage as a player if he doesn't re sign now- it's a smart move. I think the situation fine and nothing to worry about what so ever.
Tonight is a battle of West powers. However, the Spurs are undefeated in San Antonio. What will it take for the Blazers to escape San Antonio with a win?
The Blazers have yet to prove themselves on the road . It will be a tough contest , for sure, but I think they can eek a victory. Aldridge, Wallace, Batum, and at least one of the guards will have to play well for the Blazers to win.
@JeffProjectSpurs Not me. I can already see them collapsing come playoff time. Right now they are doing well with the runing offense, but once the game slows down, They'll be in trouble. and as I said before, Portland is just one injury away from being a lottery team plain and simple.
Both teams are even. It will prove to be a good game. I do think however, that the Blazers are one injury away from being a lottery team. Let's knock on wood and hope that does not happen.
It's an important day for Corey Joseph and Malcolm Thomas. Will they be used by coach Pops? He is known to be reluctant to use rookies in the past. With tjford injure, the spurs are short of point guard. Neal can't be used at the point so somebody has to sub for TP. Malcolm Thomas is 6'9" but doesn't have the body to play power forward. Attention will be on James Anderson. His performance msy spell his future - d-league? He is drafted high and much is expected to him. He can't forever hide to the fact that he was injured. Its make or break for him.