This season was lack luster. The first round of the 2014 playoffs more than makes up for it. I’m only 21, so its fair for me to say I have not experienced a more exciting first round of basketball then this. Truly explosive and exciting. Each series in the West went 6 games or more. Talk about a tough crowd. Well it’s not over – we have two very good series set up in the West. Who will come out top dog? Who will fall short of the glory? We will find out soon enough.
San Antonio Spurs Vs. Portland Trailblazers
I am okay with being wrong. I did believe that the Trailblazers would beat the Rockets in a 7 game series and I had doubted the ability of Damian Lillard, whose game winning shot was like a cherry on a playoff great sundae.
I knew that players like Batum, Aldridge and Matthews would be effective against the Rockets because they match up very well. I knew that this series would hinge on how well Lillard played and he did not disappoint. The interesting aspect of this series is how similar these teams are. They both have a great point guard, an effective swing man, an underrated power forward, and a gritty play style late games that get them the win. This series is going to be entertaining – a new generation battling the experienced one. The Spurs were pushed a lot farther in their series than most expected them too. The play of Devin Harris and Monta Ellis proved to be a bit overwhelming for the Spurs at times. The Spurs where also having a problem with closing out the 3 point shot; In their loses, the spurs roughly allowed 40% shooting from three, which probably gave Coach Popovich a small heart attack. The Trailblazers on the other hand looked great against the Rockets, proving that they have the best pick and roll duo with Lillard and Aldridge. Not to mention that during the regular season these teams spilt their series match up 2-2. So who has the edge here?
The Game Changer
The experience of the Spurs.
If you watched the series against the Rockets then you know how chaotic things got near the end of the most of the games. I like Lillard a lot. His game 6 shot will probably be immortalized as one of the greatest playoff moments. Let us keep a clear head on the situation, Lillard is as much of assets as he is a viability. If you remember, I had explained the defensive struggles the Rockets had and that 3 point shooting was going to be their Achilles heel. The Spurs are still a good defensive team. They make you take difficult shots and if you make them, good for you. if not then it is going to be a long night. You live by the 3 and die by the 3 and there is no doubt the Blazers live and die by the 3. If they are going to beat the spurs they can not do it shooting their way out. Check this – the Blazers are 2nd in the postseason in points per game(111.7), and last in points allowed(112.0) while the Spurs score 103.1 points per game and allowing 101.1 per game. The Blazers are going to have to figure out how to play better late game defense. They were able to shoot their way in the late games of the Rockets series, but I am afraid that won’t work twice. They are either going to have to get the lead early or play better defense. We will also see how real Lillard is during this series because if the Spurs carry the momentum from how they played on Sunday against the Mavericks the Trailblazers should be a little worried.
Who goes home?
I am not going to say that they are going to be pushed over. I am saying that similar to the Toronto and Brooklyn series, the experience will trump over youth this time. The Spurs have seen this too many times to be phased. And while the Blazers have shown a tremendous amount of stature and maturity,they are still a year or two short of being a real powerhouse in the West. That is not to say that this will not be a great series. Some of these games may come down to a one basketball situation. The Spurs can rely on their bench to play most of the game so that Parker and Duncan can really play during the second half and I believe the effective use of the Spurs roster is what speaks to their experience so much. It is going to be great to see how well these two play because outside their bench, they match up very well. Ultimately the Spurs win it in 6.
All stats were obtained from espn.com