The San Antonio Spurs were so fundamentally sound Tuesday, when they weren’t, they got a technical foul .
Manu Ginobili, frustrated with a first-quarter travelling call, slammed down the ball. He tried to catch it on the bounce, but it slid through his hands, and a whistle blew. Had the ball not risen so high, Ginobili probably would have avoided the technical.
Otherwise, the Spurs were meticulously thorough in a 116-92 dismantling of the Portland Trail Blazers. Tony Parker led San Antonio with 33 points and nine assists, and he was one of six Spurs to score double digits in Game 1 of their second-round series.
This one was never in doubt. San Antonio steadily built an 8-0 lead and never looked back. The Spurs led by 20 the entire second half.
After posting a solid B+ in Intro to Playoffs, the Trail Blazers weren’t ready for the advanced course. They can try cramming before Game 2, but two days doesn’t leave much time to catch the San Antonio’s years of studying.
Teams that have opened a best-of-seven with such large margin of victory have won 41 of 45 series.
All game, Gregg Popovich was a step ahead, making adjustments to problems that hadn’t yet manifested, even though his team led. The Spurs repeatedly created and exploited mismatches.
Aron Baynes, who barely played in the first round against the Mavericks, came off the bench to post 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds in 15 minutes. After struggling against Dallas, Marco Belinelli had a chance to get his confidence back, and he scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting. And despite often forgoing offensive rebounds to get back defensively during the regular season, the Spurs crashed the glass early before relenting as their lead swelled.
Only once San Antonio got up big did LaMarcus Aldridge (32 points on 12-of-25 shooting with 14 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (17 points on 6-of-15 shooting) get going. Those two must play better for Portland to have a chance. Tiago Splitter bothered Aldridge early, and Lillard lacked lift offensively after trying to defend Parker pick-and-rolls.
Not that the Trail Blazers’ stars had much help. Their teammates shot just 13-of-42 (31 percent).
No matter how many timeouts Terry Stotts called, he could never find a sustainable counter to San Antonio’s chess moves. The Portland coach kept trying, though, searching for anything to build on for Game 2.
Aldridge (41 minutes), Lillard (37 minutes) and Nicolas Batum (36 minutes) played more than any Spur.
Meanwhile, Tim Duncan played just 24 minutes and Manu Ginobili 18.
The Spurs are coming at the Trail Blazers in waves, and Portland can’t relax now. Advancing to the second round for the first time in 14 years is nice, but this isn’t just a day at the beach.
Class is in session.