Containing Aldridge key for Spurs in Game 2
During their first half blitzkrieg of Portland’s offense, the San Antonio Spurs did a brilliant job forcing LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard into bad or contested shots. The two were a combined 8-for-24 in the first half as the Spurs jumped out to a 65-39 lead at the break. While the Trail Blazers never really threatened in the second half, Portland did manage 53 points and Aldridge, in particular, got going.
It’s impossible to tell how much of that was Portland figuring some things out and how much was San Antonio taking their foot off the gas, but containing Aldridge is going to be key if the Spurs want to take a 2-0 advantage to the Rose City this weekend.
In the second half, LMA scored 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Five of those six field goals came in the paint and four were right at the rim. Aldridge scored on drives past Tiago Splitter and Aron Baynes, turnaround jumpers in the mid-post and lobs over fronting defenders. In the first half, Aldridge got into the paint, but a lot of his shots were 5-10 feet from the basket. He and coach Terry Stotts made it a point in the second half to get him better position on the low block.
Given the amount of shooters the Blazers have, the Spurs are unlikely to regularly send a double team at Aldridge. Splitter did well forcing him off the block in the first half and that undoubtedly will be a point of emphasis tonight. You still have to worry about Aldridge shooting the midrange jumper over defenders with his high release, but that’s the risk you take to keep him out of the paint.
Will Parker continue to see Lillard defending him?
As Dan McCarney pointed out this morning, the Spurs went right at Damian Lillard on defense during Game 1. Defense is no doubt Lillard’s weakness and still Stotts decided to keep him as Tony Parker’s primary defender. The Spurs were happy to attack, putting him through various screens off the ball, pick-and-rolls, etc.
At one point in the game, the Spurs even ran a Parker/Danny Green pick-and-roll (second-to-last basket) to get Lillard back on to Parker. It will be interesting to see if Stotts starts Wes Matthews or Nicolas Batum on Parker this game. Batum defended Parker before and had some success. We saw TP struggle getting clean looks in the paint last series when Shawn Marion was guarding Parker.
Offensively, the Spurs need to attempt to repeat what they did in Game 1. They got into the paint at will and created open looks for shooters. No doubt the Blazers will send different wrinkles that will take adjusting to. Portland’s defense isn’t strong enough that those changes should be a huge concern for the Spurs. This game will come down to matching Portland’s effort as much as anything else. If that happens, we could see something similar to Game 1.
All stats provided by ESPN.com and NBA.com. Game 2 tips-off at 8:30 pm central time and can be seen on ESPN 2. For tickets to tonight’s game, visit our friends at TiqIQ.