Are Blazers too stubborn to survive?

By Fran Blinebury,

VIDEO: Spurs-Blazers: Game 4 Preview

PORTLAND, Ore. — By now, everyone knows the definition of insanity.

So the question becomes: Are the Blazers are crazy enough to think they can stop the Spurs without changing the way they defend Tony Parker?

“I think our pick-and-roll [defense] is we like to keep guys on one side and when we keep it on the side our bigs play best,” said guard Damian Lillard. “We have been living all season on guys taking mid-range jump shots and that’s what [Parker] likes, so it’s been working against us.”

Yes, it has.

Parker probably couldn’t do more damage to the Blazers if he took the court swinging a sledgehammer. He comes off screens, gets into the paint and simply breaks them down. If Parker is not pulling up and sticking 16- to 18-foot jumpers right in the faces of the Blazers, then he’s dishing to teammates for easy buckets.

Through the first three games of a shockingly devastating 3-0 blowout, Parker is averaging 29.3 points and 8.5 assists per game while shooting 52.4 percent from the field.

Yet the Blazers keep insisting that the solution is just to play harder, not different. It is as if they view change as conceding a weakness.

“It’s not just the pick-and-roll,” said guard Wes Matthews. “It’s everything. It’s us forcing an air ball down 11 in third quarter after being down 20 and Boris Diaw grabs the rebound and makes a layup. It’s those plays. Those are the deflating ones, not so much an All-Star and Finals MVP with pick-and-rolls.”

But it is the pick-and-roll that gets everything started for San Antonio and gives a potent Spurs offense too many easy openings.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts continues to point out that his team has done a much better job of containing the Spurs in the second half of each game. But that’s after the Blazers have fallen behind by 19, 26 and 20 by halftime.

“You can change a little,” Stotts said. “You’re not gonna make drastic changes. You have to do things that fit your personnel, do things that you’ve worked on all year. But we can play zone a little bit, do more switching. There are things that you can tweak here and there, but I think it’s more sustaining what we’re doing.

“Nic [Batum] did a good job on Parker in the second half. We’re not built to be a trapping aggressive, double-teaming team. We haven’t done that all year and you’re not going to do that against the best passing team in the league.”

While it is admirable to have a consistent philosophy, firm beliefs and a resolute will, that can also be mere stubbornness.

“I don’t know if there’s any words for it,” Matthews said with an admiring shake of his head. “They’re playing extremely well. Everybody’s playing at a high level. Everybody on their team is looking like a first option on any other team. They’re playing well together. They’re shooting the ball well. Their conversion rate on our turnovers and our mistakes is off the charts. But they’re beatable. They are beatable.”

Not if they don’t stop Parker from beating them.


  1. asd says:

    Blazers are a jump shooting team. Iknew this would happen, you cant win in the playoffs by shooting jumpers, spurs is a great defensive team, exstremely good at closing out on shooters.

    And blazer defense are giving parker exactly what he wants, midrange jumpers.

    You rather want parker shooting 3s than 18 foot jumpers.

    Playoffs are all about mathup and stotts cant use the same gameplan for every series. got to adapt to you opponent, if the blazers want to grab a game or 2 from this series they gotta change their pick&roll defense, close up on parker inside of the 3pt line.

  2. skinnyskinz says:

    Blazers will not beat the Spurs, but they have had a superb season.

  3. JM says:

    Almost 30 ppg for TP? That’s not a good sign if you’re Portland. TP has to be pressured more by the Blazers’ D.

  4. Yeah Uh Huh says:

    The Blazers lack defense. They are the Rockets with less athleticism. Playing a machine like the Spurs who have mastered O and D with laser precision. You thought they’d fair better? They need to push the ball harder and have way better movement than throw it to Aldridge or let lillard do something wild and hope they make the shot. Create for other players spread the floor. They’ll be gone fishing too and hopefully they study the game film.

  5. A says:

    You guys are all criticizing the Blazers way too much. Yes, the Spurs are better, but they are also the best team in the NBA, especially when they are shooting like they are now. The Blazers were not expected to make it to the WCF, or even the second round. Many said they would completely miss the playoffs. Yes, the Spurs are better, but losing to the Spurs is not going to take away from the amazing season the Blazers had. How many of you said that Blazers would make the second round of the playoffs? If any of you say you did, we all know you are lying.

  6. Richard says:

    Portland can try defending the Spurs different ways but the biggest problem is quality depth on their bench.The intensity of the playoffs and the schedule of only one day rest between games gives the Spurs a huge advantage over most teams.

  7. Ian says:

    The best Portland can do now is prefer for next season

  8. pears009 says:

    This message board is a little “out of kilter” … You can not comment via the “reply” tab, to someone else’s post, and at times, when you press “Submit Comment”, it does not work… I find myself having to copy and paste, copy and paste, and refresh the page, until the message Board, FINALLY decides to work… Just FYI for whoever is working the message board(s)… Also, I don’t see a way to “delete” a comment, or edit a comment that I/one posts… Does that exist??? (I thought it did before…) 😦 That might need to be “fixed” too… (i wanted to edit/delete the last comment I made below this one… Thanks.

  9. pears009 says:

    Yea, but whats the spread??? Tht’s not too much of a risk… what will your return be? Like $10,000 … That ain’t rich brah…. Unless you taking all you savins, and gamblin wit you kidz College Monies… (and dat wud be a damn shame…) Good luck… I’ll laugh, when the Blazzers win tonight! 🙂

  10. Nope says:

    Put Wesley on Parker and everything would be good. It’s not stopping Parker that’s the problem, it’s initiating the pick-and-roll defense…Parker is getting open shots and opportunities in the paint because of the pick-and-roll. Spurs know Blazers are bad at defending the pick and roll that’s why they are blowing out Blazers. If Blazers can sustain in the first half things will go well for them, get Aldridge and Lillard on fire as well as Nic Batum.

  11. FiddyThou says:

    You bet $50,000 on tonight’s game? Wow. How much will you get in a payout if you win? Good luck! It’s hard to beat teams that are up against the wall.

  12. mikmaks says:

    Blazers should have let the Rockets win. At least they can match up better with the Spurs.

  13. Bruiser Brody says:

    Rip city is about to get ripped!

  14. Big Al says:

    They’re too stubborn not to have a single bad game in the round against Houston. The expected Game 2 blowout by the Rockets didn’t happen. Even with their two losses, the Blazers hung in there to grab the surprise (and hugely unwanted) win over D12 and The Beard. Now they’re out of sorts versus the playoff kings. After 6 consecutive great games come three straight awful ones, with a fourth imminent.

  15. He is like Mike Brown can’t change what they lived on during the season. That is the difference between good during the season coaches and great coaches who can change things when they need to during the season and in post season and the Spurs have.the best.

    BTW I am not a Spurs fan, It is what it is.

  16. Miguel says:

    Stotts is losing tons of credibility…he hasn’t changed a comma in his script and there it goes, 3-0 by average of 25 points….how stubborn…or it may be that the Blazers just arent as good as we thought them they were…I knew we could beat Houston, and we did, unfortunately it wont ahppen against San Antonio….Lets plan for next season, we need a stronger backup center, a credible replacement for LA and some guys to give breathing air to DL and NB.

    • skrutz says:

      I’m rooting for Portland, but:

      1 – The Spurs are the best team in the league
      2 – I don’t think the Blazers are as good as we hoped

  17. thespectator says:

    i got 50k on the spurs tonight, bout to become quite wealthy

  18. RON says:

    IT’S A RIZZAP!!!!! Probability says that a comback is not likely. However, if they do comeback, the will join the status of an elite few that have done it in NBA history….or has anyone ever comback from 3-0?

  19. denis says:

    I think you’re right. When Tony gets confidence, it’s really hard to stop him.Blazers should defend on him. Hope they won’t. Go spurs!!!

  20. en. says:

    Blazers… man all dat hype for nothing

  21. Rip City says:

    Whoah, Fran. Your articles throughout this series have been really hard to read. Super skewed and not all that on point. Mathews said it best, flawless pick and roll offense executed by two future hall of famers is unstoppable. period. Stotts was also right in that we’re not a double team defense team, and the Spurs would only punish us if we tried. It’s our missing of open shots (a whole bunch) and giving up easy offensive (and defensive) boards at critical times that is killing us. Hats off to the Spurs, though. There’s not a team in the league I’d rather be crushed by. I hope they win the whole thing…they deserved it last year and certainly do this year.

  22. grantstern says:

    It’s as if changing is somehow an admission of guilt. Maybe this team has Scott Brooks consulting for them.

  23. Spurs4ever says:

    Sounds like we just need to get the broom, and focus on the conference finals…It sounds like the Blazers aren’t trying to make adjustments, and just hope that Parker and the Spurs have an off night… game on..

    • SPURSFAN says:

      That’s the thing…they won’t have an off night. If parker has an off night, then Ginobili and/or Duncan will have a good night. And if none of the big 3 have a good night then it’s K. Leondard, or Danny Green, or Splitter, or the other 6 on the team. Too deep/too many weapons!!!

      • SPURSFAN says:

        But i will mention that they did have an off night against Dallas in game 2 of Rd1. They just weren’t themselves in that game. Pop will not even allow them to have such a terrible game the remainder of the playoffs. Teams might edge them, but they will not blow them out.

  24. Ldopa says:

    You are sooooooo wrong good sir. I just read a much more complete article ALL ABOUT how the blazers have tried EVERYTHING to stop them lol you are laughable. And conveniently, nowhere do you make a single reference to what exactly they should do different? You mention plays at the hoop as well as jumpers. So which is it?

  25. Brainundrum says:

    Spurs will easily claim the series tonight for a 4-0 sweep of the Blazers. People, this Spurs team is going all the way. Spurs in 6 vs Heat in the finals.