Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers 9:00 CST March 25, 2011
The Spurs lost a tough game in Denver on Wednesday. It doesn’t get any easier in the upcoming weeks. Their remaining schedule includes Portland (twice), Memphis, Boston, Houston, Phoenix (twice), Atlanta, Sacramento, Utah and the LA Lakers. The Spurs will presumably play many of them without the services of Duncan.
As I have stated before, staying or getting healthy while remaining sharp is more crucial than clinching the top seed. However, if the Spurs don’t win enough games to clinch the top spot, chances are that something is wrong.
Although the Spurs could have easily beaten Denver last night (the Nuggets shot 57% from 3 point range and Al Harrington was absurd), the defensive performance was definitely concerning. The Spurs defensive rating was 122.3, third worst of the season. On the season, the Spurs have been about 6 points per game better defensively when Duncan is on the floor. The Trail Blazers seem to be an even tougher matchup for the Duncan-less Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 40 points on 23 field goal attempts in a 99-86 Portland win on February 1. Aldridge has powered the inside game for Portland. Against the Spurs, the Blazers have scored an average of 12.5 points in 12 post ups. They also averaged 11.5 points on 8 pick and roll plays to the roll man. Aldridge averages over 9 post ups per game and 3 possessions as a roll man, 3 possessions as a cutter and 2 putbacks. His scary brilliance includes a February of 28 PPG on 56% shooting and 7 free throws made per game despite committing fewer than 2 turnovers per game in Portland’s sluggish offense.
The Spurs primary advantage in the prior two meetings was in three point shooting, which is very unreliable from game to game. The Spurs shot a combined 17 of 35 from 3 point range. Portland merely managed 7 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Spurs better-than-expected 3 point shooting accounted for 4.5 points per game and Portland’s struggles from deep accounted for 4.2 fewer PPG. An argument could certainly be made that Portland had more maintainable success than San Antonio.
The Spurs actually played pretty well against Portland defensively in their loss, but were unable to get to the line and barely shot 50% when they got there, shooting 8 of 15. Portland made 21 of 24 free throw attempts. In a 95-78 Spurs win in San Antonio, the trend was reversed. The Spurs attempted 26 free throws compared to the Trail Blazers’ 11 attempts. Home cooking can be a trend from time to time, but this vast difference is unusual.
Given their struggles against big teams and the temporary lack of a hall of fame “power forward”, this could be a very tough road test. A few things could help:
1) Effectiveness using small ball lineups – Although Portland plays at very slow pace, teams are able to create fast breaks against them.
2) If Camby doesn’t play, there is no real shot blocker to keep Ginobili, Parker and Hill at bay. Even if he does play, Portland allows the 4th highest percentage of shots at the rim. Attack the rim!
3) More value from Splitter – He’s the player who seems to have the most ability to step up his offensive and defensive contributions (Jefferson was also considered, but he will face tough defenders at SF tonight). Splitter has finally been given some time to adapt and a great opportunity to succeed. Will it click for him at some point?
4) Favorable outside shooting – You can’t count on it, but the Spurs have more 3 point weapons than anyone. A big night almost guarantees victory.
Portland: 1.77 (13th)
San Antonio: 6.25 (3rd)
Portland Trail Blazers Player Ratings 3-24
|Player||G||MPG||USG%||Ortg||DRtg||WS/48||2 Yr APM|
San Antonio Spurs Player Ratings 3-24
|Player||G||MPG||USG%||Ortg||DRtg||WS/48||2 Yr APM|
Player trends, based on Efficiency per 48 minutes:
Portland Trail Blazers Player Trends 3-24
San Antonio Spurs Player Trends 3-24
Most valuable/utilized lineups:
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge, Camby +12 in 443 minutes (+1.7 per 100 possessions)
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Wallace, Aldridge +53 in 157 minutes (+19.3 per 100)
Miller, Roy, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge +37 in 36 minutes (+45.3 per 100)
Miller, Fernandez, Roy, Wallace, Aldridge +26 in 29 minutes (+43.9 per 100)
With Wallace on the floor, the Trail Blazers have outscored opponents by an average of 9.3 points per 100 possessions in the 428 minutes. Ironically, this is largely due to a significant offensive improvement.
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +147 in 669 minutes (+10.4 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Duncan +29 in 147 minutes (+10.2 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +67 in 105 minutes (+35.3 per 100)
Parker, Hill, Ginobili, Bonner, Duncan +49 in 55 minutes (+39.0 per 100)
I actually think the Spurs are a pretty good team, even without Duncan. However, they’ve faced a pretty tough stretch in the first 3 games after Duncan’s injury. Not only will they have to play on the road, but Portland is a team with a super talented big, who has played like a super star at times this season. In addition, Gerald Wallace has already made significant contributions. The Spurs have a tough schedule remaining, but few will be tougher than this one.