Preview and Prediction: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers

In a game that is important for both teams as they battle for a spot in the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs (22-28) continue the 2020 Rodeo Road Trip against the Portland Trail Blazers (23-28). With a win, the Spurs could leapfrog over the Blazers and grab the ninth seed in the Western Conference.

Both the Spurs are the Blazers are chasing the Memphis Grizzlies, who at 26-25 are now over .500. The Spurs haven’t been over .500 since they were 5-4 on Nov. 9, while the Blazers were last over .500 on Oct. 30 at 3-2.

The Spurs Make No Trades at the NBA Trade Deadline

It was a quiet trade deadline for the Spurs, as San Antonio didn’t make a move. In fact, there wasn’t even any talk that the Spurs were in serious discussions with any teams about a trade.

The most notable trade in the eyes of Spurs fans has to be the deal that sent Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks to the Los Angeles Clippers. Morris and Kawhi Leonard, two players that Spurs fans booed loudly this season, are now on the same team.

Blazers Make a Small Trade at the Deadline

The only move the Blazers made today was trading Skal Labissiere to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a protected second round pick in 2024. The trade was made to lower Portland’s luxury tax bill.

That said, the Blazers made a relatively major trade a couple weeks ago when they sent Kent Bazemore and a couple second rounders for Trevor Ariza. Ariza has played well since landing at Portland, starting all six games and averaging 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Spurs at Blazers – Key Matchup

Can the Spurs slow down Damian Lillard? That will be the challenge. If head coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs want to stop him from scoring 50 points, they will need to keep their best defenders on him at all times. That means begin with Dejounte Murray on Lillard and only also use Derrick White to defend him.

Even if the Spurs defend Lillard perfectly, that may not be enough. In his last nine games, the superstar point guard is averaging 42.4 points, 9.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds on 51.5% shooting from the floor, 50.9% on three-pointers and 88.6% from the line.

Prediction – Spurs at Blazers

Oddsmakers have the Blazers favored by 3.5 points — predicting a final score of 116-113. Although the Spurs have started the Rodeo Road Trip 0-2, I think they’ll show up tonight ready to play. San Antonio has to realize that a loss tonight is a big blow in their quest to reach the postseason.

San Antonio Spurs – 118
Portland Trail Blazers – 114