The San Antonio Spurs (0-1) come into the Rose Garden tonight for Portland’s home opener 31-13 all-time against the Blazers (0-1). Regardless if it has been a visit from Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood or Tim Duncan, the Spurs have always had Portland’s number. And four NBA titles never hurts the argument that San Antonio remains one of the elite teams to beat out West.
No doubt they are banged up. San Antonio will be without their two Argentineans in Manu Ginobili (ankle) and Fabricio Oberto (heart). Those guys keep the Spurs feisty (and Bruce Bowen) in what is usually a vanilla filled squad – nothing too flashy, no bruisers; just straight-up results.
Hence the .705 winning percentage against Portland.
We know all about Duncan and Tony Parker. But the new addition to the Spurs – and a guy the Blazers should be mindful of tonight is Roger Mason, Jr.. Very interesting journey to the NBA: drafted by Chicago in 2002 (31st overall), traded and released by Toronto, played over in Greece and Israel, before latching on with his hometown Washington Wizards (where he averaged 9.1 points per game last season in place of an injured Gilbert Arenas and former Blazer Antonio Daniels). He signed a two-year free-agent contract with the Spurs this past offseason. Mason is one of those cats you have to keep your eye on.
He’s been around – is always moving without the ball. Lose him and he’ll make Portland pay.
And then there is Gregg Popovich (insert Grizzly Adams and Z.Z. Top reference here).
How can you not like Pop (think surly grandfather and cool uncle rolled into one)?
Just ask Shaq. You probably know this story by now. Shaq recently referred to San Antonio’s “hack-a-Shaq” tactics in the playoffs last year as “cowardly”. Here’s Pop’s rebuttal courtesy of YouTube….
pic via: washington times