Opponent: San Antonio Spurs (26-27 overall, 3-7 last 10 games)
Offensive Rating: 110.2 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 111.1 (11th)
Net Rating: -0.9 (19th)
Where: AT&T Center (San Antonio)
When: 5:30 p.m. (PST)
Broadcast: NBC Sports Northwest/FOX Sports Southwest
Point Spread: Portland -2.5
Moneyline: Portland -138, San Antonio +118
- San Antonio: Gorgui Dieng (questionable), Trey Lyles (out)
- Portland: Zach Collins (out)
Primer: The math will definitely be on the Blazers' side Friday night.
The Spurs rank bottom-five in three-point rate this season, per Cleaning the Glass, taking 31.0 percent of their shots from beyond the arc – a number slightly lower since they parted ways with LaMarcus Aldridge in early March. Portland, by contrast, gets up a higher share of threes than any team in basketball save the Utah Jazz.
How does San Antonio compensate for its old-school approach to the three-point line? Focusing on the mid-range, naturally, where Gregg Popovich's squad takes a larger proportion of shots than all but two teams in the league. Portland hasn't shirked those attempts entirely, and never will as long as C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony are on the roster.
But if there's a factor the Blazers can look to exploit on Friday night, it's undoubtedly their massive built-in advantage from deep. The Spurs have their own, and none more important than defense at the rim and point of attack.
Jakob Poeltl allows just 48.9 percent shooting from the restricted area, per NBA.com/stats, third-lowest in the NBA. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are a premier perimeter tandem defensively, and Keldon Johnson – still raw but very intriguing – has the length and strength to capably guard multiple positions. Lineups with those guys on the floor and DeMar DeRozan off it force turnovers on a whopping 21.3 percent of possessions, per Cleaning the Glass, best in the NBA.
That's a small sample size, however, because DeRozan is San Antonio's offensive bellwether. Though he's barely taking more threes this season and is slightly less efficient than a year ago, he's clearly leveled up again as a passer. DeRozan isn't LeBron James or Luka Doncic, but he'll throw a couple cross-court dimes every game now that remind of basketball's top playmakers.
Expect Norman Powell to start Friday's game on DeRozan, though Portland will no doubt do a lot of switching one-through-four. DeRozan is big and athletic enough to at times overwhelm Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. To help ensure he doesn't, the Blazers can load to the strong side of the ball or flat-out run double-teams at DeRozan, more confident than against other opponents that the Spurs' iffy shooters – with the exception of Patty Mills, duh – will fail to make them pay.
Bottom Line: Portland, somewhat careless offensively during early portions of recent games, needs to emphasize protecting the rock against San Antonio, which never turns it over. If the Blazers manage that and win expectedly big from three, they should come away with a much-needed victory.