Spurs use another hot start to take 3-0 series lead
Things once again escalated quickly as the Spurs jumped out to an early lead and sustained to pick up a 118-103 win. San Antonio is just one win away from getting back to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight season.
While the outcome was similar, this game felt a little different from the last two games. Early on, Portland matched the Spurs intensity and shot making. Portland even took a 13-12 lead with midway through the quarter. San Antonio proceeded to score eight straight and ended the quarter on a 16-5 run. The second quarter of Game 3 did look a lot like Games 1 and 2. The Spurs outscored Portland by 10, which is actually the lowest second quarter margin. In three games so far, San Antonio has outscored Portland by 39 points in the second quarter. Basically, no matter what happens in the first quarter, the Spurs have done a great job of keeping the Trail Blazers from getting any momentum going in to halftime.
It took three minutes for Portland to turn a 20 point lead to 12, then 10, then eight. Since it was a road game, this run felt a little more dire for the Spurs. The Portland crowd got loud in a hurry.We saw it in Dallas, the home team fed off the crowd’s energy during these runs. Fortunately Portland’s defense couldn’t hold up and the lead swelled back up to 14 by the end of the third quarter. The lead didn’t get smaller than 12 in the fourth and the main reason for that was Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental went on a 7-2 run of his own early in the fourth quarter. After a Tony Parker three-point play, Duncan found Kawhi Leonard on an outlet pass that Leonard finished with a three-point play of his own. That put the lead back at 22 and not too long after that Coach Popovich called off the dogs.
While Duncan was brilliant late, this win again was thanks in large part to Parker’s play, especially in the first half. He had 20 points in the first two quarters and scored eight of the team’s first 10 points and assisted on the other basket. Portland switched up their defensive looks on Parker in the second half as both Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum saw extended minutes guarding him. Batum faired pretty well, with his length bothering Parker as much as anything in this series has. With Game 4 being do or die, it wouldn’t be surprising if Batum starts on Parker. That’ll work until Pop subs in Manu Ginobili or Patty Mills for Danny Green and then that guy will be able to attack Damian Lillard.
The other monstrous the Spurs have this series could not have been more apparent Saturday night. With Mo Williams out with a groin injury, Portland’s lack of bench scoring was even more in the spotlight. The Spurs bench outscored the Blazers’ 40-6. It doesn’t matter how well the starting five plays, Portland just isn’t winning this series if their bench can’t score even half as much as the Spurs’ bench. This one’s over and I don’t even know if it’s getting back to San Antonio. Game 4 is Monday at 8:30 p.m. If the Spurs win that then they’ll have at least three or four extra days off before the Western Conference Finals begin.