This is San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. If the world were a good, and just place, he would be commissioner of the National Basketball Association. But the world is not so, and the league is run by a man who was once good - but those days are far behind him. David Stern is a sour, wrinkled creature now, fueled by resentment and fear, his soul curdled. Where once stood a marketing genius, now sits a weathered, Gollum-y husk of defeat.
Popovich is maybe the sharpest mind in basketball now that Phil Jackson is gone, and he was probably smarter than Phil anyway. He will bring a classic Popovich team with him to the Rose Garden: Fundamentally strong, unflappably consistent, and incredibly boring to watch... unless you know what to watch for.
Tonight, watch as Meyers Leonard and JJ Hickson find themselves in the position of trying to stop Tim Duncan. Watch as Damian Lillard attempts to withstand the fusillade of defensive schemes Pop will throw at him. Watch as Luke Babbitt wistfully sighs on the bench and wishes he could be a librarian in basketball shorts like everyone else on the Spurs side of the court.
Who knows. This Blazers squad might not only learn something, they might teach these old dogs a little something of their own.
HOT LIVE BLOG ACTION begins live at the Rose Garden at 7:30pm.