Live from a crowded bar as the San Antonio Spurs host the Portland Trail Blazers in the fifth game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Blazers won a game in this series! Sweep? What sweep? Put those brooms away, we’ve got Roombas to do our sweeping now.
It was Portland’s only win in four attempts, but still. San Antonio can now no longer be considered an unbeatable monolith of greatness, just a pretty damn good team that is having a pretty damn good second round.
Portland still has little to no chance to take this series, but a win tonight would put a tremendous amount of pressure back on San Antonio. There’s no way the Blazers lose a potential game six on their raucous home court. That would mean a game seven in San Antonio, and anything can happen in a game seven. No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit, but history has to happen at some point, right?
The biggest disadvantage facing the Blazers? Will Barton will not have another podium game. The People’s Champ torched the Spurs for seventeen points on Monday, but there’s only so many times you can catch lightning in a skinny bottle like that.
Role players tend to play better on their home courts. Flip the contributions of Barton and Thomas Robinson with that of Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills from last game, and suddenly Portland’s commanding game four win turns into a loss. That’s the beauty of home court advantage and why it can be so vital come playoff time. The Spurs missed some good looks on Monday. Chances are that doesn't happen again.
If there is any silver lining, it's that Portland hasn’t received truly dominant performances from their two all-stars yet. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have to have huge games to give the Blazers any chance of picking up another win. Otherwise, the Spurs can all but count on the Gentlemen’s Sweep.
The Blazers are rolling with a red uniform and red sock combo tonight. Red socks and rolling.
11:24 - The Blazers won the tip, but LaMarcus jacked up a wild shot that was two feet short. The Spurs, on the other hand, connected with ease on their first possession. 2-0 Spurs.
9:44 - The Blazers get their first point on a Nicolas Batum free throw. He only hit one of his two freebies, but points is points. 4-1 Spurs.
8:08 - The good news is the Blazers are doing a masterful job of crashing the offensive glass. The bad news is they haven't hit from the field yet, starting this one 0-6. 8-1 Spurs.
7:13 - LaMarcus Aldridge made a field goal! The seal is broken. But on Portland's next offensive possession, Batum missed his second free throw of the game. 8-4 Spurs.
5:40 - Tiago Splitter picked up his second foul on the offensive end, trying to make a move in the post with Lillard guarding him. That is great news for Aldridge, as he's had trouble with Tiago in this series. Okay, LaMarcus, now is your time to do some damage. 10-6 Spurs.
5:26 - Right on cue, there's a pick and pop jumper for Aldridge out of a timeout. 10-8 Spurs.
4:23 - Aldridge's jumper is falling, but he just bricked two free throws that would have given Portland the tie. Blurg. 12-10 Spurs.
2:55 - Batum with the and one! The Blazers leaked out off of a defensive rebound, and Batum all but had an open lane to the rim. All Tim Duncan could to was try and foul him, but Batum was able to convert. Even better, he sunk his free throw this time. 15-12 Blazers.
1:13 - Wow, this is a low scoring quarter. Batum is doing his best to correct that, as he just took Manu Ginobili to the post and hit a turnaround jumper like he's Dirk or something. 17-14 Blazers.
0:00 - It's a defensive battle just like everyone predicted. After one, we're all tied up. Now the Blazers just need to do their best to not go down by twenty in the second quarter, as they did in games one through three. 19-19 Tie.
11:14 - The Spurs had started the quarter on a 4-0 run, but Robin Lopez just threw in a massive put back dunk to get this bar electrified. 23-21 Spurs.
10:20 - Patty Mills blocked a Lillard three (?!?!) on one end, Danny Green hit a pull up transition three on the other. Timeout Blazers. 26-21 Spurs.
9:55 - The People's Champ, Will Barton, from the corner for three! My brain can't handle Will Barton Legitimate NBA Player. 26-24 Spurs.
8:46 - Kawhi Leonard from three. The Spurs now have their biggest lead of the game. Just don't let it get up to twenty. 30-24 Spurs.
7:31 - Off of a Barton missed three (he's human!), Robin Lopez tipped the offensive rebound back in with one hand like it was a volleyball. 32-28 Spurs.
5:56 - LaMarcus spun baseline to beat Boris Diaw off the dribble, dunking at the rim and breaking up what was a pretty large Spurs run. This Spurs team and second quarters. Ugh. 37-30 Spurs.
5:11 - Huh, so Tony Parker is apparently completely missing from this game. He's not on the bench and is back in the locker room. No updates as of yet, but his absence would have a huge impact on this game and series. The Spurs are doing just fine without him right now, though. 39-30 Spurs.
4:46 - LaMarcus turnover, Kawhi three. Uh oh. 43-30 Spurs.
3:18 - Lillard missed a three, grabbed his own offensive rebound which bounced off long, and kicked to an open Batum for three. Whew. A little breathing room. This was close to being another twenty point halftime deficit. 47-35 Spurs.
2:46 - There we go, Portland! Finish this quarter out strong! 47-37 Spurs.
1:43 - Aldridge with the shooter's touch from the free throw line, hitting every part of rim but still getting the shot to fall. 49-39 Spurs.
1:12 - Matthews for three! Screw your second quarter curse! 49-42 Spurs.
0:45 - Portland is killing the end of this quarter. LaMarcurs for two! 49-44 Spurs.
0:00 - The Blazers were this close to digging themselves an uncomfortable hole, but they did a masterful job of not falling too far behind. What a difference that was compared to the first three games of this series. They're still losing, but they at least left the door open for a comeback. 51-44 Spurs.
HALFTIME: Well, the Spurs just announced that Parker is done for the night with hamstring tightness. That's a huge blow for San Antonio's offense.
11:03 - No Tony Parker, no problem. That's a 6-0 run for the Spurs to start the quarter. 57-44 Spurs.
10:32 - Off of a Batum turnover, Kawhi Leonard scored on a breakaway dunk. It's now an 8-0 run, and Portland needs time. So much for that nice finish to the second quarter. 59-44 Spurs.
10:04 - Lillard finally stopped the bleeding with a step back over Patty Mills. 59-46 Spurs.
8:13 - The wheels are off. The Blazers can't connect on anything, are turning the ball over, and every Spurs attempt is coming right at the rim. 64-46 Spurs.
7:24 - Well, at least the Blazers are in the bonus from here on out. 67-52 Spurs.
6:56 - Is Kawhi Leonard a Terminator? Does he dream of electric sheep? He straight ripped the ball right out of Dame's hands, then drove the length of the court for his second dunk off of a steal this quarter. 69-52 Spurs.
5:12 - You would think Tony Parker being out of this game would be a huge advantage, but the Blazers are just falling apart. LaMarcus can't hit a jumper but Tim Duncan can. On that last possession, Will Barton threw a pass into the fifth row. It's looking over, folks. 73-54 Spurs.
3:07 - The Blazers need anything right now. Will Barton. Thomas Robinson. Meyers Freaking Leonard. Anything to get some sort of offense going. 75-59 Spurs
2:18 - Okay, Barton, I see you. Hit that floater fifteen more times, okay? 75-61 Spurs.
1:28 - A little momentum? Maybe? Time to finish this quarter out strong. 75-63 Spurs.
0:00 - Will Barton missed a corner three that would have been huge, but Patty Mills missed his own shot on the other end as the quarter ended. This lead is not insurmountable, but the Blazers have to get their offense going. They only put up nineteen points in the first and third quarter. They need to put up thirty-five in the fourth. 77-63 Spurs.
11:28 - Lillard missed a ten foot jumper, Danny Green immediately connected on a three. Ugh. 80-63 Spurs.
10:08 - Lillard was hammered on one end. No call. Danny Green was lightly grazed on the other. Foul. The Blazers just don't have it tonight. 82-65 Spurs.
9:38 - Turnover on one end. Kawhi Leonard basket on the other. Congrats, Spurs. You guys earned this one. 85-65 Spurs.
9:08 - Batum missed a three on one end, Danny Green rattled one down on the other. Do I still have to keep updating this live blog? Or can I start drinking heavily now? 88-65 Spurs.
7:41 - Kawhi Leonard with another steal, his fifth, and the Blazers can't get out of this game soon enough. This is a tough way to end the season, but that doesn't take away the fact that it was a damn fine season. 93-67 Spurs.
7:31 - The Blazers call time, regroup...and turn it over as soon as play resumes. 95-67 Spurs.
5:23 - I might mist up over here. It was a hell of a season, and a total pleasure to live blog for y'all. 100-74 Spurs.
3:52 - Dame from thirty feet out. Maybe that was his problem all series—he was just too close to the three-point line. 100-79 Blazers.
3:05 - Here comes the bench. Meyers Leonard, now is your time. All I want is for Leonard to drain a three before this season is over. Is that too much to ask? 100-81 Spurs.
FINAL: 104-82 Spurs. It's a bittersweet ending. The Blazers did better than anyone expected, fought their way to the second round on the back of an incredible series winner by Lillard, and have built an impressive foundation for the future. It sucks getting demolished by the Spurs, but the Blazers have to feel optimistic going forward. Good job, good effort, and here's to next year!