Live from an incredibly loud bar as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the first game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
On to the next one. Started from the bottom now we’re here. Round 2: Electric Turkoglu.
And, oh, this matchup. This freaking matchup. It’s the young upstarts versus the old vets. It’s a man, Tim Duncan, that has played in the same amount of playoff games (218) as the entire Portland franchise. It’s two offensive powerhouses that both play a beautiful brand of basketball. It’s porn for roundball purists that believe in scheme above all.
Which point guard is going to be the biggest defensive liability, Damian Lillard or Tony Parker? Which power forward will be the best on the court, LaMarcus Aldridge or Tim Duncan? Which center will throw up the ugliest looking hook shot, Robin Lopez or Tiago Splitter? Which bench player will infuriate Blazer fans more, Mo Williams or
Patty Mills Mo Williams?
With his epic buzzer beater, Lillard took every ounce of pressure off of the Blazers. They are playing with house money. Whatever ultimately happens in this series, it’s gravy. Of course the goal is for Portland to advance, but getting to round two is already an amazing foundation for a young team on the rise. Win or lose, this season can officially be labeled a success.
Words, words, blah blah blah, let’s just watch the Lillard shot on repeat for the next thirty minutes and call it good.
Nobody believes in you, Blazers! Well, technically, one person does (thanks Amin!), but this only adds fuel to the underdog fire that Portland plays so well. They love being counted out, love the bulletin board material. Keep it coming.
In good news for the road team, before tonight the home versus road splits have been evenly matched at 26 games apiece this postseason. Homecourt advantage means less than it has in the past, and Portland absolutely needs to steal one of these first two to have a shot in the series. There’s no way a Gregg Popovich team drops four out of five games.
LaMarcus Aldridge came in tenth in MVP voting for this season. Hooray? If voting were taking place right now as opposed to weeks ago, something tells me Aldridge would have cracked the top five with the outstanding stretch he's been on.
This bar is out of control loud. The beer is flowing like wine. It's live blog time.
11:17 - Both teams with close misses early, Tiago Splitter on an ugly hook (he wins for ugliest shot!) and Damian Lillard on a close floater. Kawhi Leonard scored in the post (plus the foul), but he missed the free throw and the Spurs were able to secure the rebound and score. Not the start Portland wanted. 4-0 Spurs.
8:50 - Well, I'll give y'all an update once the Blazers finally score. 6-0 Spurs.
8:30 - Yep, still waiting. It will be after this Portland timeout. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the Blazers won't score zero points for the rest of the game. 8-0 Spurs.
8:10 - LaMarcus scores! The seal is broken! 8-2 Spurs.
7:16 - The Spurs defense looks legit tonight. Damian Lillard had to fight for the bucket, running across three separate picks to try and find space to get in the lane. 10-4 Spurs.
5:12 - So, uh, things aren't going so well. It's going to take an intense amount of focus to beat this Spurs team, and right now the Blazers just don't have it. 14-5 Spurs.
5:01 - And just like that, Mo Williams is in the game and jacking up shots. He's providing that instant offensive spark. Hopefully he can keep it up, and the Blazers get Good Mo tonight. The Spurs call time, because how dare the Blazers score any points. 14-7 Spurs.
4:02 - So Kawhi Leonard against Lillard in the post? That's no going to end well. Leonard just scored his easiest two points of the season. 18-7 Spurs.
3:40 - Thomas Robinson is in and doing Thomas Robinson things: grabbing offensive rebounds, drawing fouls on the other team, knocking Tim Duncan in the mouth. It's all hands on deck, and the bench has to provide that spark tonight. 18-9 Spurs.
2:25 - You can live with the ball not going down. The looks are there for Portland, they just aren't falling. What you can't live with is three guys going after a defensive rebound and losing to to Aron Baynes—Aron Baynes!!—and letting him score on a put back. Timeout Portland. 22-9 Spurs.
1:23 - Manu Ginobili was called for a travel, threw the ball down, and received a technical for his trouble. There is clearly not a lid on Portland's rim, because Wesley Matthews sunk the technical free throw. 24-10 Spurs.
0:00 - Well that was a terrible quarter of basketball. The Blazers couldn't score the ball, shooting just 22%. They gave up key offensive rebounds and let the Spurs shoot 50% from the floor. The good news is it won't be this bad for the rest of the game. The bad news is ugggggggggh. 29-16 Spurs.
11:10 - Well, it's a Mo Williams game. The Blazers need someone to snap them out of this funk, and he's the one that is taking the reigns, bad shots and all. 29-20 Spurs.
9:53 - Just when it looked like the Blazers might be cutting their way into this lead, the Spurs erase any and all momentum with a couple of timely shots. That's an 8-1 run, capped by a Marco Belinelli three, and Portland calls time. Blurg. It's going to be a long night. Next pitcher is on me! 37-21 Spurs.
9:12 - It's Aron Baynes' world. We're just living in it. 39-23 Spurs.
8:36 - Mo giveth, Mo taketh away. He fouled Patty Mills on a three-point attempt, and after three freebies, we've got ourselves a good old fashioned shellacking. 42-23 Spurs.
7:31 - Robin Lopez with the three-point play to give the Blazers a little life. They just need to get this lead back to within ten before the half. 44-28 Spurs.
5:44 - The boxscore will say that was a missed shot and a rebound for LaMarcus, but he thew that pass off the backboard to himself. He should get an assist for a play that pretty. 50-32 Spurs.
5:21 - One team is shooting 64% from the floor. One team is shooting 32%. Guess which is which? 50-32 Spurs.
4:58 - The Blazers gave up two offensive rebounds off of a free throw (fundamentals!), and Belinelli made them pay with a three-pointer. Of course. 54-32 Spurs.
3:11 - I don't know if I should laugh or cry at this point. 58-32 Spurs.
1:58 - LaMarcus with the acrobatic and one. Anything to get this team going. Please. Anything. 60-37 Spurs.
0:00 - The good news is that half of basketball is over. The bad news is there's another half of basketball still to be played. Coming off of the high of Game Six, the Blazers just put together on of their worst halves of basketball. At least it can't get much worse? 65-39 Spurs.
11:34 - Robin Lopez with an offensive rebound! And he drew a foul on the put back! But, because tonight, he was only able to make one of his two free throws. 65-40 Spurs.
10:40 - Lillard fell down all on his own, but somehow was able to draw a foul in the process. No team has scored a field goal yet, but the Blazers are chipping into this lead. The Spurs are missing now that they're stuck on the rim with a lid. 65-42 Spurs.
8:27 - Too soon to bench the starters? 71-44 Spurs.
7:15 - Lillard threw the ball right to the Spurs as he tried to set up the offense. Tony Parker scored on a breakaway the other end. Terry Stotts wants time. This is ugly. This is terrible. The mantra for tonight: This is only one game. 75-46 Spurs.
5:51 - Dame hasn't been looking for his shot enough tonight. Portland needs his offense. When he finally took the initiative and launched a triple, he picked up a three-shot foul. 75-49 Spurs.
4:26 - If nothing else, the Blazers are doing an expert job of drawing fouls right now. They are living at the line. It could be the refs trying to give us a competitive game (Competitive? Ha!), but every little positive takeaway right now has to be highlighted. 75-53 Spurs.
3:26 - Lillard drove the lane and picked up the easy basket at the rim. More of that, please. If Portland can get this under fifteen by game's end...they'll still lose. But maybe it will at least be a moral victory? 78-56 Spurs.
2:40 - Batum missed everything from eight feet out, Tony Parker pulled one of his patented spin move in the lane and secured the and one. 81-56 Spurs.
2:00 - Throwing an alley oop four feet over Will Barton's head is not a good look. Some nights you eat the bar, and some nights the bar eats you. 82-58 Spurs.
0:51 - Aldridge and one. If he can hit a Rock & Jock twenty-point shot, then maybe the Blazers will have a chance. As it stands...game over, man. 85-63 Spurs.
0:00 - Hey! The Blazers outscored the Spurs that quarter by a point, 26-25! Subtract the first half and we'd have a game. 90-65 Spurs.
10:10 - Will Barton hit the first Portland three on the night. If that isn't tonight in a nutshell, I don't know what is. 94-70 Spurs.
9:30 - The Blazers have six assists on the night as a team. That is a stat that exists. 94-72 Spurs.
8:59 - San Antonio needs time! The Blazers have cut this lead to...twenty?! They're still down twenty?! Oh my. Pass the pitcher. 94-74 Spurs.
6:58 - Aldridge blew a great assist from Lillard by missing the chippy, but he was able to grab the offensive board and put it back in. Portland is sitting on seven assists. Their lowest total for a playoff game is ten. 98-78 Spurs.
6:09 - So this bar has been completely quiet since about five minutes into the first quarter, but the place exploded when Batum hit his latest three-pointer. That's Portland's second three of the night. That low percentage can't last this entire series, right? 101-81 Spurs.
5:27 - Lillard knocked Kawhi Leonard to the floor with his off arm before getting a shot up? Sure, that seems totally plausible. 103-81 Spurs.
5:04 - I know the Blazers have some things they need to solve for game two, but Stotts has to consider getting his starters out of there soon. 105-84 Spurs.
4:40 - Or, you know, get the starters out of there by having them foul out. Matthews picked up three (?) fouls in roughly the last two minutes of play, and he's done for the night. 107-84 Spurs.
3:05 - So the second half has been much closer. The Blazers still can't score worth a damn, but they've been doing a great job of limiting San Antonio's offense as well. It's just that first half that was so brutal. This is going to be a series. Forget tonight, learn, and move on. Game two is going to be a battle. 111-86 Spurs.
2:44 - Meyeres Leonard versus Aron Baynes. The matchup we've all bee waiting for. 111-86 Spurs.
1:33 - Will Barton Over Everything. Two straight threes for the trillest of of the trill. If nothing else, tonight will be remembered as the night Will Barton his three threes in a playoff game. 116-92 Spurs.
FINAL: 116-92 Spurs. The Blazers outscored the Spurs in the second half, so at least there's that! This was a rout, plain and simple, but it's a looooong series. Don't count Portland out yet. Tonight was ugly, but there's a lot more basketball to come.