Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Well, the Portland Trailblazers didn’t look particularly dangerous in Game One of their second round series with defending Western Conference Champion San Antonio. Everything we had seen in their first round upset of Houston had disappeared. The energy wasn’t there. The dynamic scoring punch disappeared. A young, confident team with swagger was suddenly nervous and unsure of themselves.
The good news is that nerves often disappear after a blowout. That was a slap in the face! The bad news is that Portland is very inexperienced in terms of what it takes to win this deep in the playoff brackets, while the Spurs have made this old hat for years. Portland really needs a sense of urgency right away, or they’ll never achieve the confidence level it takes to make this a series. San Antonio needs to avoid the urge to relax since the opener was so easy. The Spurs are still terrific…but they relaxed too often vs. Dallas in the last round and it almost cost them.
This is our final preview for Round Two. Let’s run the matchup through our stat gauntlet.
Portland: 108.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #5 in the NBA)
San Antonio: 108.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)
Both teams showed off high quality offense in the first round. Portland missed almost every shot they took in the first 10 minutes Tuesday Night, dooming them to a long and sad evening. Virtually a dead heat in terms of overall volume. But, it’s possible that San Antonio deserves the nod in a playoff matchup because they have a more balanced attack. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge do a lot of the heavy lifting for Portland. San Antonio spreads around the lifting.
Portland: 104.7per 100 possessions (ranked #16 in the NBA)
San Antonio: 100.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)
It’s easy to forget that the Spurs were a top five defense this season on a per-possession basis. They only showed this in flashes vs. Dallas. It was enough to advance. They definitely rattled Portland Tuesday. Biggest factor here might be the fact that Portland brings a league average defense into a huge series against offensive geniuses. They’ll really have to shoot lights out on their own to win four of the next six games.
San Antonio: #12
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is “young and fast” Portland vs. “old and slow” San Antonio. These teams were very comparable in pace factor through the season. Portland does have energy…but San Antonio has energetic role players that make your forget that Tim Duncan has been around forever. Having important veterans doesn’t mean you’re slow. These teams play in the same comfort zone. If the series slows down in later games, the Spurs are obviously much more experienced at that kind of play in the postseason.
Against the Spread
Portland: 44-38 (2-4-1 so far in the postseason)
San Antonio: 45-37 (2-6 so far in the postseason)
Interesting here…as both teams made money during the regular season, but have been very poor values against the spread in the playoffs. That may shock some of you who weren’t paying close attention to Portland. They upset Houston to advance, but only went 2-3-1 against the spread because they couldn’t cover a home game. They were -3 or -4 in those three games. Two went overtime and the other was won at the buzzer. For their part, the Spurs failed to cover their first six playoff games before notching the last two. Had you realized this as a battle of two overrated teams?
Las Vegas Line:
San Antonio by 7, total of 207.5
It’s likely that “zig zag” bettors will hit Portland and drop that number down before tipoff. If that doesn’t happen, the market is telling you that it’s very optimistic about San Antonio storming through this series.
JIM HURLEY always storms through the playoffs! You can purchase Wednesday’s NBA PARLAY (this game plus Brooklyn/Miami) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages for NBA and MLB, or those two plus the rest of the Triple Crown.
Back Friday to look at the most compelling Game 3 from either Indiana/Washington or Oklahoma City/LA Clippers. We’ll use that approach day-by-day through the second round…drifting away from any series that becomes a cakewalk and focusing on the thrillers. Get YOUR thrills by WINNING BIG all through the spring and summer with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!