Live from an incredibly loud bar as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the second game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
With their first half haymaker on Tuesday, San Antonio proved why they are championship contenders. They came out on fire, dismantling Portland with machine-like precision. Pick, roll, mid-range jumper, repeat. When that team is firing on all cylinders, they are unstoppable.
Unstoppable, but not without flaws. This team can be beaten. The sky is not falling yet. A not-so-great Mavericks team just took the Spurs to seven games, one more than it took the Blazers to send the Rockets packing. It’s all going to come down to execution. The margin for error is slim, as Terry Stotts sure as hell isn’t going to out-coach Gregg Popovich.
Let’s just all collectively forget about the first game in this series, okay? Move on, nothing to see here. Round two officially starts tonight.
If the Blazers lose tonight, I guarantee that some paper will run with “Snakebitten” as a headline. Because OHMYGOD, the Blazers found a live rattlesnake in their locker room today. Seriously. A snake. I’ve heard of trying to psych out an opponent—shoutout to the Kings giving Kobe Bryant food poisoning!—but this is just too much. Hopefully the players aren’t too...rattled. Heyo!
Win or lose, at least tonight is going to be a more competitive game. The Blazers were destroyed, but they took away a moral victory by winning the second half. They still lost by an embarrassing amount, but whatever halftime adjustments were made did the trick. Adjustment number one, in big bold red letters: Aron Baynes is a player that is on the court that plays for the Spurs and when he puts the ball in the basket the Spurs get points so make sure somebody plays defense on him. Easy enough.
Portland looked a little flustered by the bright lights. Damian Lillard played timid, Nicolas Batum didn't hunt for his shot, and it wasn't until the second half that LaMarcus Aldridge finally established some sort of rhythm. That will change tonight. Expect Lillard to go right at Tony Parker, expect Batum to shoot early and often, and expect Mo Williams to take at least three cringeworthy shots.
Joey Crawford is in the building. Get ready for some fireworks.
11:38 - The Blazers start with Wesley Matthews on Tony Parker, but it doesn't matter. Parker ran the pick and roll with Kawhi Leonard, and Kawhi wound up with a relatively open jumper. Money. 2-0 Spurs.
10:17 - LaMarcus hit is first turnaround jumper over Tiago Splitter. A much better start than last game. 4-4 Tie.
9:48 - Batum for three! The Blazers have their first lead of the series! 7-4 Blazers.
8:31 - That might be the first time I have ever seen that call made. The Blazers were inbounding underneath their own basket, and a whistle blew because the ref claimed the bounce pass on the inbounds touched the baseline. Spurs ball. What a brutal break after the Blazers secured two offensive rebounds to get extra possessions. 7-7 Tie.
7:41 - A broken play—Lillard was so close to getting a rebound over Tiago Splitter, but Splitter came away with it—lead to a wide open Leonard three-pointer. Those were the rough breaks that plagued Portland the entire first game. 12-7 Spurs.
6:27 - After looking overmatched in game one, Robin Lopez is doing the dirty work tonight. He's already racked up four rebounds, including three on the offensive end. 12-12 Tie.
4:13 - Lillard finally gets on the board, draining his first shot in four attempts. He hasn't been playing very well again, missing open looks and throwing a pass into the fifth row. He has to get going for the Blazers to have a chance in this series. It's still early, but the Spurs' defensive game plan has been working. On the plus side, Tony Parker is 1-6, so the Blazers are doing a great job on that end. 16-16 Tie.
2:36 - Will Barton first quarter playoff minutes! Alert! Will Barton first quarter playoff minutes! 22-18 Spurs.
2:14 - And that's why you don't play Will Barton in the playoffs. On a breakaway, he meekly shoved Marco Belinelli in the back. Three-point play. 25-18 Spurs.
1:30 - Will Barton! I take it all back! He has the last four Blazers points, and is supplying a much needed energy boost for this team. Let Barton be Barton. 25-22 Spurs.
0:00 - End of the quarter, put the ball in Lillard's hands. A behind the back dribble, a drive in the lane, and a pretty floater off the glass for two points as the clock expired. Well, this is a vast improvement from game one. 29-26 Spurs.
11:27 - Boris "Bobo" Diaw just drew nothing but front iron on a three foot hook shot, but somehow still managed to get that shot to fall. Tiago Splitter is impressed. 31-28 Spurs.
10:36 - Seven straight points for Boris Diaw? Seven straight points for Boris Diaw. 36-30 Spurs.
9:51 - The Blazers are digging themselves a hole. An offensive rebound, a Danny Green three, and this lead is suddenly double digits. 41-30 Spurs.
9:31 - Back to back threes for Danny Green, and the Blazers need time. 44-32 Spurs.
8:45 - The Spurs three-point barrage continues. This time Marco Belinelli got in on the action, draining a fadeaway triple from the corner with a hand in his face. 47-32 Spurs.
7:33 - Tiago Splitter offensive rebound, Marco Belinelli three. The wheels are off. Portland is falling faster than Johnny Manziel's draft stock. San Antonio is on a 23-8 run this quarter. 52-34 Spurs.
6:37 - Welp. LaMarcus had a wide open dunk off of a pretty curl, nobody within three feet of him, but he fumbled the ball on his jump and missed the chippy. It's going to be that kind of night. 54-36 Spurs.
5:45 - Yep, another missed dunk for LaMarcus. Thomas Robinson was able to grab the offensive rebound, but he also missed from about three feet out. Too soon to call it? 54-36 Spurs.
5:32 - Tony Parker missed a free throw, and Splitter was able to get a hand on the rebound and throw it off of Robinson as he was falling out of bounds. Spurs ball. THere is literally nothing going right for Portland right now. 54-36 Spurs.
4:51 - Batum stops the bleeding. Finally. But after a couple of nice defensive possessions, the Blazers give up a wide open layup to Splitter. 56-38 Spurs.
3:54 - Lillard for three. The patrons of this bar are yelling at him to get it going, to keep firing from deep. 58-43 Spurs.
2:24 - Once again, the hope is the Blazers can get this to within single digits by the half. The Spurs are putting on an offensive clinic, and the Blazers just need to survive. 63-49 Spurs.
0:30 - So much for getting it within single digits. The Spurs are throwing haymakers again. 68-49 Spurs.
0:00 - Aaaaaand the Spurs scored 70 points in the first half, 41 of those coming in the second quarter. This hole is once again too deep. Sorry, Blazers. There's always next game. Now is probably a good time to mention that two years ago the Thunder lost the first two games against the Spurs and then rattled off four straight wins. 70-51 Spurs.
11:23 - The Blazers secured two offensive rebounds to start the quarter, and Robin Lopez was finally able to capitalize with a running layup. Okay. Get those hustle plays. 70-53 Spurs.
10:14 - Batum alley oop! That got this bar full of listless fans excited. 72-55 Spurs.
8:45 - The Blazers picked a Tony Parker pass off, and the result was a wide open LaMarcus layup in transition. A little momentum! 74-59 Spurs.
7:42 - And Kawhi Leonard killed any and all momentum with a deep three-pointer. This Spurs offense is just too good. 77-59 Spurs.
7:22 - You know when a cat toys with a ball of yarn? Yeah. That. 79-59 Spurs.
6:10 - Matthews for three! At this point, any points are worth getting excited over. 79-62 Spurs.
4:06 - The good news is the Blazers have held the Spurs to eleven points this quarter. The bad news is they only have thirteen of their own. 81-64 Spurs.
3:34 - Matthews for three! San Antonio needs time! Baby steps! 81-67 Spurs.
2:14 - Matthews has ten straight for Portland. The Blazers are chipping their way back into this one. 81-69 Spurs.
1:09 - Early Watson is in the game?! I couldn't believe it at first, but after he threw an alley oop off the rim, it was clear it was him. 83-69 Spurs.
0:00 - Well, the Blazers at least caught up a little bit in that quarter. After getting it to within twelve, they couldn't quite get over the hump to close the gap even further. LaMarcus is having a terrible, no good, very bad game. Someone on this Portland team needs to start mucking up the game, throwing some bows and causing chaos. Get Joel Freeland in there. Hell, get Meyers Leonard in there. Anything at this point. 87-71 Spurs.
11:29 - Will Barton with a step back corner three. If it ain't broke... 87-74 Spurs.
9:17 - Okay. Ooooookay. The Blazers are finally showing a little spark. They might have finally woken up and realized it is the second round. It's probably going to be too little too late, but anything to build on for game three is welcome. 92-80 Spurs.
8:27 - Thomas Robinson just hit a twenty-foot jumper to get Portland within ten points. Twenty! He was one step in the three-point line. I don't even. 92-82 Spurs.
6:54 - Within nine! Turnover for San Antonio, alley oop for Batum in transition! 95-86 Spurs.
5:38 - The Blazers were getting punked. Down by twenty. Run out of the arena. But after that Batum three, the Blazers somehow still have a chance in this one. Even if Portland loses this (which the most likely will), showing this kind of determination late is such a huge accomplishment. 99-91 Spurs.
5:21 - And Boris Diaw hit a three on the other end. There goes the Portland run. 102-91 Spurs.
4:26 - Gregg Popovich is going to murder Manu Ginobili after this game. A loose ball ended up right near Manu and Tony Parker, and they both fumbled it out of bounds off of the other player. That play needed more Yakety Sax. 102-93 Spurs.
3:18 - The Blazers turned it over on an offensive foul on Matthews—or, you know, a flop on Manu—and Kawhi Leonard drained a corner three on the other end. There's your ball game, folks. The Blazers can once again enjoy the moral victory, but damn that first half. The Spurs machine struck again. 107-93 Spurs.
2:43 - Manu for three. Dagger. 110-93 Spurs.
1:38 - You're not going to win many games when Aldridge and Lillard go a combined 14-43. 110-93 Spurs.
FINAL: 114-97 Spurs. The Blazers have a little more to build off of this game—they were at least able to get it close in the fourth quarter—but the Spurs offense was still too much to handle. This freaking Spurs team, man. I'm fully confident that Portland will win game three and make this a series, but the San Antonio buzzsaw is a scary sight to behold. When their offense is humming, there's not much left to do other than throw up your hands and laugh it off.