French on French Crime
The Spurs looked like they were about to sweep the Blazers, however a key adjustment by the Blazers really hurt the Spurs last game. While it seemed simple and desperate, it turned out to be a huge contributing factor to the Blazers' win on Monday night. However even after that impressive win, the NBA Odds are favoring the Spurs by -8 at home, with a total of 208 ½.
The big switch Portland made was sending the long and athletic, Nicholas Batum to guard his fellow countryman, Tony Parker. Not only was it effective, but also it really threw off the Spurs offense, because Batum’s length and agility was able to counter Parker’s quickness. However, while it was an extremely crafty move by Terry Stotts, he is going up against the king of all adjustments, Gregg Popovich.
If indeed the Blazers go back to putting Batum on Parker in Game 5, Popovich will have that problem solved. Even doing it in Game 4 had some consequences. For starters, it forced Wesley Matthews to defend Kahwi Leonard. This isn’t a bad mismatch, but Leonard did have another good game, and Matthews is not long or quick enough to stay with Leonard in the post.
However it allowed Damian Lillard to only have to chase around Danny Green, and that led to Lillard finally breaking out and scoring 25 points in this game. However as I mentioned above, I think I know what Pop will do to counter the move by Stotts to put Batum on Parker.
The Sharp Pick
The problem with the Spurs is that not only are they experienced, but they are younger and deeper than they have been in a while. They could even be deeper than they were last season, and with all that depth comes options. Assuming Batum starts on Parker again, if I were Popovich, I would immediately pull Green from the game, insert Marco Belinelli or Manu Ginobli, and put the ball in their hands. This would move Parker off the ball, and it would either force the Blazers to switch back, or it would just force Lillard to have to start defending on the ball again.
Lillard is a lot of great things, but the glaring problem with his game at this young stage of his career is he is not a great on-ball defender. If the Spurs force that matchup and make him defend a ball handler, it will not only limit his offensive upside, but it could get the Spurs’ offense going at home in Game 5.
Before they got that win in Game 4 SU and ATS, the Blazers had lost seven straight playoff games ATS, and I think they’ll go back to losing this one in San Antonio. Since 2012, the Spurs are 30-22 ATS when coming off of a loss in the regular season and the playoffs. San Antonio is also a very respectable 18-14 ATS in the playoffs since last season. I’m laying the points here.
My Pick: Spurs -8