The first round task for the San Antonio Spurs consisted of trying to contain the Dallas Mavericks’ Monta Ellis and his high-speed assault on the basket. The new task is going to be a little more difficult to say the least, and that will be trying to stop the momentum of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard.
The second year guard out of Weber State has taken the 2014 NBA playoffs by storm with his series winning shot that sent the Houston Rockets home in the first round. His current 25.5 points per game average in this year’s playoffs have not only propelled the Blazers into the conversation of contenders in the West, but it has also put Lillard’s talents on the national stage.
San Antonio struggled in guarding the pick and roll action against Dallas and allowed too many opportunities for penetration. The Spurs must be aggressive in guarding Lillard, especially off the screen, by not supplying space for him to get his shot off or a lane to create in. If the Spurs can get Lillard to shoot contested shots or force him to make uncomfortable plays in traffic, they can force turnovers for easy baskets. Lillard averaged 2.3 turnovers per game in the first round.
The series will be a contrast of youthful aggression and veteran maturity. The Blazers are almost defiantly ignorant to the possibility of failure which may or may not work in their favor. But the poise that the Spurs possess will serve them well in the high pressure situations that are sure to be faced in this intriguing round two clash.