Blazers face 'not ideal' situation down 0-3 to Spurs

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. — TUALATIN, Ore. — Following a third straight double-digit loss and a 0-3 series deficit that no NBA team has ever come back from, Portland’s Wesley Matthews wasn’t dwelling on the loss when he woke up on Sunday.

“Thank god for waking me up with my Mom and my grandma in my house and wishing them Happy Mother’s Day,” Matthews said. “As far as the series, it’s not an ideal situation to be in.”

“Not ideal” is certainly the most diplomatic way that Matthews could phrase the plight of the Blazers, who face elimination from the playoffs in Monday’s Game 4.

“The first thing was I don’t want to be swept,” said point guard Damian Lillard on his thoughts before practice. “If anything I don’t want to be swept. If we win one game, that’s momentum in the right direction.

The Spurs have won the first three games in the series by a combined margin of 56 points. The Spurs have been very “surprised” publicly with their ability to dominate the young Blazers.

“Who would of thought? 3-0 up and winning with the certain margin. Nobody really expected that. We’re playing our best basketball of the season,” said San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili following Saturday’s Spurs win.

The Blazers have had the unfortunate timing of running into the team who had the NBA’s best record when they are playing at the top of their game.

The Blazers have had double-digit deficits in every game so far. The lowest amount of points the Spurs have scored in a first half is a whopping 60 points. The Blazers have talked about the constant movement and screens from the Spurs offense all series long.

The continuity and patience of the Spurs has been a shock to the system for the Blazers after facing the Houston Rockets, whose strategy was to jack up early three-pointers or just try and beat Portland’s defenders to the rim.

“This is probably the first team and the best team that plays the whole shot clock,” Matthews said. “They’re leading the playoffs in points with under six seconds in the shot clock. We were coming off a series where shots are going up with 15 seconds (on the clock). We’re only guarding shots for 9 seconds. (Now) You’re guarding three screen and rolls in one play.”

The Spurs have also taken great care of the ball and have punished the Blazers for any turnovers, bad shots or lapses on the defensive glass at an alarming rate.

“It seems like their guys are in the right place at the right time a lot in this series and we’ve been scrambling at times and haven’t been there,” said LaMarcus Aldridge.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts has felt like the effort for the Blazers has been there but the execution simply hasn’t been on the same level of San Antonio’s. The Blazers also feel like they’ve left a lot of points on the floor, particularly around the basket and in the paint.

The Blazers have made 49 percent of their shots within three feet of the hoop and 21 percent of the shots in the key. Both of those numbers are well below their season and overall league averages in those locations.

“We just missed lay-ups,” said Aldridge who has missed a good share of his own. “I missed a lot of lay-ups, RoLo had a few, Dame had a few. We’re getting there, just not finishing them.”

For now, the Blazers cannot afford to think about history but only survival.

“Just take it game by game. We can’t look too far ahead. Right now it’s a one-game season for us and if we go out tomorrow and we win, then we have one more game,” Aldridge said.