NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals: #5 Portland Trail Blazers vs #1 San Antonio Spurs

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Semifinals 

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #5 Portland Trail Blazers
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Spurs -420 / Blazers +335
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook

Game #1 – Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
AT&T Center – San Antonio, Texas
Opening Line: San Antonio -6 1/2
Current Line: San Antonio -7
Opening Total: 204 1/2
Current Total: 206 1/2
Opening Money Line: Spurs -295 / Blazers +245
Current Money Line: Spurs -315 / Blazers +260

The Spurs and Trail Blazers open the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night in San Antonio.
The Spurs and Trail Blazers open the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night in San Antonio.

The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 Western Conference Finals. The Spurs would sweep the Blazers en route to their first NBA title. Fifteen years later the two teams meet in the Western Conference semifinals, and the Spurs are looking for their fifth title in that span. Game one is Tuesday night in San Antonio. The winner will take on either the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.

Portland went 54-28 in the regular season and were 5 games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division. The Trail Blazers qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and were matched-up against the #4 seed Houston Rockets in the first round. Both teams had identical records, but Houston had the tie-breaker by winning the regular season series 3-1. Portland would win the first two games in Houston to take command of the series. The Blazers took a 3-1 series lead, but Houston would avoid elimination at home in game five. Portland came home for game six and closed out the series with a thrilling 99-98 win on a three point buzzer beater by guard Damian Lillard Friday night. The series was very competitive with each game decided by 10 points or less, and included three overtime games. It was the first series win for Portland since they advanced to the 2000 Western Conference finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

San Antonio had the league’s best record at 62-20. The Spurs won the Southwest Division by 8 games over Houston. San Antonio was matched up against the #8 seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The Spurs were down 2-1 in the series, but came back to win in seven games. ¬†San Antonio easily won game seven Sunday afternoon 119-96 at home. The Spurs had beaten the Mavericks 9 straight times before that series began.

The two teams split the regular season series 2-2. The Blazers won in Portland 115-105 November 2 and in San Antonio 109-100 January 17. The Spurs won 111-109 February 19 in Portland and 103-90 March 12 in San Antonio.

Portland is coached by Terry Stotts. The Trail Blazers have won 13 of their last 16 games. Portland is 47-41 ATS this season and the total is 50-37-1 this season.

Portland is outscoring teams 107-103 this season. The Trail Blazers are #4 in scoring and #22 in points allowed. Portland is shooting 45% from the field and 37.2% from 3 point range. The Blazers are #10 in 3 point shooting. Portland leads the league in free throw shooting at 81.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. The Blazers average 46.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.5 per game. Portland leads the league in rebounding but is #22 in rebounds allowed. The Blazers average 23.1 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 5.5 steals, and 4.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 20.4 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 3.7 blocks per game.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge averages 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1 block per game. Point guard Damian Lillard averages 20.7 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Guard Wesley Matthews averages 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Forward Nicolas Batum averages 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Center Robin Lopez averages 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, and Joel Freeland will also get significant minutes.

San Antonio is coached by Gregg Popovich, who won his third NBA coach of the year award last week. San Antonio is 46-43 ATS and the total is 49-39-1 this season.

San Antonio is outscoring teams 105-97. The Spurs are #6 in scoring and #6 in points allowed. San Antonio is shooting 48.6% from the field and 39.7% from 3 point range. The Spurs are #2 in field goal percentage and #1 in 3 point shooting. San Antonio is #4 in free throw shooting at 78.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Spurs are in the top 10 in both categories. San Antonio is averaging 43.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.2 per game. The Spurs average 25.2 assists, 14.6 turnovers, 7.5 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 20.3 assists, 14 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 4.7 blocks per game.

Point guard Tony Parker averages 16.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. Parker is probable with the ankle injury. Forward Tim Duncan averages 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. Forward Kawhi Leonard averages 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Guard Manu Ginobili averages 12.3 points, 3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1 steal per game. Guard Marco Belinelli averages 11.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Guard Patty Mills averages 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Jeff Ayres, and Matt Bonner will also get significant minutes.

Portland is 6-1 ATS in road games, 5-1 against teams with winning home records, 2-5 after failing to cover, 7-19 in Tuesday games, 0-4 against teams with winning records, when the opponent scores 100 points or more in the previous game, 0-4 overall, against Western Conference teams, and against Southwest Division teams. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 games in this series.

San Antonio is 11-4 ATS after a cover, 8-3 in Tuesday games, and after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 7-17 against Northwest Division teams, 1-4 at home, on one day rest, and after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game, 1-7 against teams with winning records. 1-8 overall and against Western Conference teams, and 0-4 after a straight up win.

Even though he won the rookie of the year last season and was an All-Star this season, the Houston series was really the first time most fans had seen the dynamic and exciting Lillard. He was fantastic in the last series, and must play even better against Parker. Lillard still has a long way to go on defense, and probably won’t be on Parker in crunch time. Aldridge was nearly unstoppable against the Rockets. He is a younger version of Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who San Antonio pretty much contained in the last series. I think this series goes the full seven games with the Spurs winning. As for game one, I think the well rested Blazers pull off the upset.

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