Bill Murray had an infinite number of days in the movie Groundhog Day to repeat the same experiences, learn his lessons and win over Andie MacDowell.
The Trail Blazers are running out of time to learn their lessons — one more game and their season ends.
This series feels like Groundhog Day for Trail Blazers fans. Just like in Games 1 and 2, the San Antonio Spurs took an early lead, exploited the fact nobody on Portland can guard Tony Parker (29 points and 6 assists), had Tiago Splitter stifle LaMarcus Aldridge (9-of-23 shooting for 21 points), blew the game open in the second quarter and coasted in to a 118-103 win.
San Antonio now leads the series 3-0. The only question left is if the series ends Monday night in Portland or next Wednesday night back in San Antonio.
You can really just pick any area and the Spurs dominated Game 3 (and the series):
• Bench scoring. Through three games this series the San Antonio bench has outscored Portland’s 140-43. That gives Gregg Popovich matchup options Portland and Terry Stotts just does not have.
• Tony Parker. He continues to just carve up the Trail Blazers defense, getting into the paint and with that breaking down all things Portland. Why are we all so slow to call him the best point guard in the game? (I’m guilty of it.)
• Portland’s defense. We knew it wasn’t all that great — they have some good individual defenders, but to beat the Spurs you have to play as a unit, you have to be a defense on a string. The Blazers are not. The Spurs are moving the ball to uncontested shots all too easily (60 percent of their shots were not contested in Game 3, according to the NBA’s Sports VU camera data).
• Tiago Splitter. He draws the Aldridge assignment and just corrals the Blazers’ All-Star. Which allows the other defenders to stay home on their men. Which leads to the next note…
• Limiting Damian Lillard from three. He was 0-of-6 in this game. For most of the series the Spurs have sat on all the Blazers shooters, but in Game 3 Nicolas Batum (4-of-7 from three, 20 points) and Wes Mathews (4-of-10 from three, 22 points) got loose a little. Still, the Blazers need Lillard to go off to really be effective.
We could go on, but I think the point is clear.
Tim Duncan had 19 points and helped slam the door when the Blazers tried to make a second half run. Kawhi Leonard seems to be everywhere. Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobili, everyone is playing well for San Antonio.
This is simply a case where not only are the Spurs the better team they are terrible matchup for the Blazers. San Antonio was not sharp against Dallas in the first round (give the Mavs some credit there) but since Game 7 of that series they have been the best team in the playoffs.
Portland had a great season, made big leaps. Now they are seeing what the next level they need to reach is. They are learning some lessons the hard way.
The Spurs have taught a lot of teams those lessons during the past 15 years.