San Antonio (5-2) at Portland (4-4)
When: Wednesday, November 11th 2015
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Time: 10:35 ET | TV: ESPN
The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers will meet for the first time tonight when former Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge returns to Portland as a member of the Spurs. Aldridge signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Spurs in the offseason after making the playoffs five times in nine seasons with Portland but never advancing beyond the Western Conference semifinals. Aldridge shared responsibility for the offense with Damian Lillard in his final two seasons in Portland but is getting used to a more collaborative effort in San Antonio which doesn’t yield as many shot attempts. His scoring is down from 23.4 points a year ago to 15.1 this year and is only shooting 45.7%. Kawhi Leonard has been the leader on offense for San Antonio averaging 22.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. The Spurs will be looking for their third straight victory tonight before returning home to play three games against poor teams including these Blazers again.
Lilliard is the only starter left from last year’s Portland squad as the Blazers begin a rebuilding process. Portland misses Aldridge’s contribution on the offensive end, but it is defense that kept the team winless in a back-to-back against Detroit and Denver on Sunday and Monday. The Trail Blazers surrendered a total of 228 points in the losses despite scoring 207 themselves. Lilliard leads the NBA’s 7th ranked scoring team with 27.1 points a game followed by C.J. McCollum’s 20.9. Former Duke grad Mason Plumlee is getting more minutes with Portland than he did in his first two seasons in Brooklyn and is taking advantage of it. He leads the team shooting 62.5% from the floor, but still can’t hit a free throw. He’s 11-for-32 from the charity stripe. As a team, the Blazers are 28th in the league in free-throw shooting at 66.9% despite being 5th in 3-point percentage.
The Spurs have much more talent and experience than Portland and I expect Aldridge to have a big game back in Portland tonight.
Pick: Spurs -7.5