Advanced Scouting: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs


Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs 2:30 CST December 12, 2010

SRS ranks:

Portland: 0.46 (14th)
San Antonio: 8.94 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 6, 2010) and (effective December 10, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Miller,Roy,Batum,Aldridge,Camby: +15 in 229 minutes
Miller,Roy,Matthews,Aldridge,Camby: +26 in 134 minutes
Johnson,Fernandez,Matthews,Cunningham,Aldridge: +38 in 47 minutes
Miller,Roy,Matthews,Batum,Aldridge: +38 in 25 minutes

Preferred method to create shots: Andre Miller on the Pick and Roll

The Portland Trail Blazers have enjoyed great success utilizing Brandon Roy on isolation plays over the last few years. However, knee problems have contributed to drops in Roy’s minutes, usage and efficiency this season. At one point in the season, the Blazers even considered scratching the isolation for Roy from the playbook altogether.

Roy’s diminished contributions have called for Andre Miller to create more for his teammates. In addition to his increased role in setting up teammates for easy buckets, Miller has also been Portland’s primary option in running the pick and roll. The Trail Blazers have averaged 0.95 points per possession (PPP) with Miller heading the pick and roll, compared to 0.69 when the pick and roll is run through Brandon Roy.

Portland also feeds LaMarcus Aldridge often in the post, but his production seems to have leveled off in recent seasons, his scoring average has not deviated from 18 points in the past four seasons and his Offensive Efficiency Rating (Points Produced per 100 individual possessions) has dropped from 115 in 2008-09 to 113 last year and is currently 106 this season.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Try to entice Andre Miller to shoot jump shots

Andre Miller is an anomaly when it comes to the outside shot. He has the lowest 3 point all-time percentage among players with 100 made treys and a FT% above 80%. He gets better inside the 3 point line, but the more you can entice him to pull up for a jumper, the better your chances of success become.

Miller also looks to pass off pick and rolls, but since coming to Portland more of his assists have come on jumpers. These passes tend to be less harmful than passes leading to close shots and dunks.

After a slow start, George Hill has seen improved results with his pick and roll defense. A modest increase in his typical minutes to match up against Andre Miller defensively could serve the Spurs well.

Defensive Strategy: Test Roy on ISOs and get to the line

Portland’s defense allows 95 points per game, good for 7th in the NBA. However, a more appropriate measure of defensive performance is points per possession. In that category, Portland allows 106.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. This defensive efficiency leaves them as an almost perfectly average defensive team.

Not only is Portland average overall defensively, they are middle of the pack of several statistical categories. Over the last two seasons, they have been about average defending the pick and roll, above average defending the post and reasonably good at defending isolations plays. Teams do well when they are able to run on Portland, but increasing the pace against them is easier said than done. Portland is second to only Atlanta in the lowest turnover rate for the past two seasons.

If there is anything that tends to hurt Portland defensively, it’s that they foul at a high rate. Only 6 teams have a higher FT/FGA rate and only Utah is anywhere near average or better. In addition, Rudy Fernandez has moderately struggled defending the pick and roll.

Another thing the Spurs could potentially exploit is testing out Brandon Roy on isolations. Teams have had considerably more success against him on these plays than last year. Perhaps his troubled knee is the culprit once again. The Spurs generally prefer to run the pick and roll, but a few more isolation plays through Manu or Parker could pay off. George Hill and Richard Jefferson are also capable of testing Roy on the isolation if matched against him.


The Spurs and the Trail Blazers are both coming off 4 game winning streaks. The Blazers have impressed many with a double digit win against the Magic and two victories against the Suns. However, the Spurs have impressed all year. San Antonio should once again be clear favorites in this one.

  • Jacques

    Go Spurs!

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  • DorieStreet

    The Spurs and their fans couldn’t have asked for a better start through the first quarter of the NBA season. Divide the remaining schedule in 10-game segments–each grouping presents a unique challenge to the team remaining on top of the NBA Western Conference. 10 games left in the year-8 against ’09-10 playoff teams, 6 + .500 opponents, 3 road games on TNT (for the entire country to check us out against quality teams). Portland has beaten us 5 straight times–talent wise maybe one of the few teams that is better than the Spurs. Can our experience edge get us a win? Ex-Spurs Sean Marks & Fabricio Umberto (replacing Greg Oden’s roster spot) returning to town. Go get this quality win!!

  • christian

    what exactly do you mean “talent wise maybe one of the few teams that is better than the spurs”…are we still talking about the frail blazers? i don’t have a crystal ball but the trail blazers aren’t going any deeper in the playoffs than years past

  • Rob

    Sorry, dude, Oberto retired due to a heart condition. The big man curse struck again.

  • sauce


    I think there are a lot of teams that are more talented than the spurs. The lakers, the heat, the grizzlies, the magic, maybe even the celtics b/c of rondo, and the mavs are more talented than the spurs. The difference between us and the other teams and the reason why I love the spurs is that we are able to stay below the luxury tax and yet still have the best record as a result of our culture, our system, our execution, our basketball and management savvy and although I have heard more negatives about Pop and our system, Pop is just as important as timmy is the spurs.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Dorie

    Oberto retired 5 weeks ago because of a heart condition.

  • DorieStreet

    @ christian

    Talent–athleticism, basketball skills, their youth – their entire roster. (And I said ‘maybe’). Their accomplishments as a team- that’s another story. Anyway, the ‘frail blazers’ handle us last season–tht contributed us to being a 7th seed in the playoffs.

  • DorieStreet

    @ ThatBigGuy

    Thanks for the update (I forgot- I did see he hadn’t played since early Nov—some sites don’t update the roster on a timely basis).

  • DorieStreet


    No one could have summed it up better than you. I live in another NBA city (Atlanta), and it took the last decade or so for basketball fans in this region (the southeast) to admit what the Spurs have accomplished is great. I ‘ve heard the “respect what they have done but are not exciting/are boring” forever. Now they echo the sports media mantra that SA is “too old” I want this team to do it one more time so bad, especially with “South Beach mania” having control of ESPN.

  • TheRed&Black

    Man what was up with that ball. Nobody could hold on to it. Luckily we DID hold onto the lead, and cruised to a very respectable win from a very confident and striding Blazers team. Solid defensive effort, Blair and Hill continue to look solid. Although there were sometimes when blair would still lose his man who would then get easy put-backs/tip-ins.Now We just need to bring Splitter along, and we will gun for five.

  • TD = Best Ever

    There has to be a better reason why Splitter isn’t getting any PT. Another game vs a team with a BIG Frontline and he only play 3 garbage time minutes. How much rest does he need – he hasn’t played basketball in 2 months. That’s plenty of rest. Many ( including me) thought that he would get some time in with the starting line up.

    This is just my theory and I hope I’m wrong – I think POP knows that he is a long way away from helping this team or being who they NEED him to be.

    Why do yall think he isn’t getting in more PT.

  • andy

    2 months isn’t “plenty” of time. you have to factor in that he never had an offseason after playing for a year straight. add that he had a freak injury that can be chalked up to overuse, and i think we should be fine with him resting splitter. can’t argue with prudence, and pop has earned his judgment calls 4 times over, maybe 5 this year.

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