Blazers-Spurs Game 4 Preview: Spurs can sweep, Blazers fighting for lives

Blazers-Spurs Game 4 Preview: Spurs can sweep, Blazers fighting for lives

By James Herbert | NBA writer

“The
The Spurs have an opportunity to sweep their second-round series. (USATSI)

More postseason coverage: Playoff schedule, results | Latest news, notes

Game 4: San Antonio at Portland (10:30 p.m. Mon., TNT)

1. Where We Are: The Portland Trail Blazers are just about done. Long live the Blazers. They've fought hard in this series, coming back from three consecutive halftime deficits of 20 points or more. The San Antonio Spurs have simply been too good, too polished, too precise for Portland, withstanding every Blazers run and taking a 3-0 series lead. Forgive me for thinking that the Spurs won't be the first team in NBA history to lose a seven-game series after winning the first three.

The question now is how quickly San Antonio can wrap this up. Portland won't go down easily, not at home, and San Antonio could benefit from the rest that would accompany a sweep. There's no way the Spurs expected to go the distance in the first round against the Mavericks and possibly roll through the Blazers like this, but here they are. They might as well take advantage of it.

2. The Big Number: 140-43. That's the bench-points advantage enjoyed by San Antonio through three games, per Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, and that is utterly ridiculous. Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Aron Baynes have all contributed meaningfully, while Portland has been forced to push its starters to the limit. Will Barton's been a nice surprise, but Mo Williams has been absent because of a groin injury, Thomas Robinson has been ineffective and head coach Terry Stotts has not shown confidence in Dorell Wright or C.J. McCollum.

3. Key Adjustment: Uh, come out stronger? The Blazers aren't about to make any wild strategic changes. They just need to avoid starting slowly. They'll have the Moda Center crowd behind them, and they'll want to at least give those fans one last memorable moment. Portland's been able to stick with the Spurs for significant stretches, but it has been constantly clawing back from behind. If the Blazers can jump out to an early lead rather than surrendering one, they might be able to extend the series.

4. The Big Story: LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have been neutralized. Portland's potent power forward and point guard have shot a combined 48-for-127 (37.8 percent) from the field in the series. Tiago Splitter has done a fantastic job on Aldridge in the post, and the normally deadly Lillard has made only one of his 13 three-point attempts. The duo has been phenomenal this season and they have big things ahead of them, but this series will give them plenty to look at and learn from in the summer. If they are going to avoid elimination, the pair of All-Stars will need to find a way to be efficient in Game 4.

5. The Facts: 10:30 p.m. ET. Mo Williams is not expected to play, per Joe Freeman of the Oregonian.

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