No. 1 San Antonio Spurs
vs. No. 2 Portland Trail Blazers
Records: Spurs 37-13 (7-1 in the playoffs, having eliminated Minnesota, 3-0, and
Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1); Trail Blazers 35-15 (7-2 in the playoffs, having eliminated Phoenix, 3-0, and Utah, 4-2).
(playoff stats in parentheses)
San Antonio -- C David Robinson (14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg), F Tim Duncan (23.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.5 bpg), F Sean Elliott (12.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Mario Elie (6.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg), G Avery Johnson (15.1 ppg, 7.5 apg), G Jaren Jackson (19.5 mpg, 9.0 ppg), F Malik Rose (6.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
Portland -- C Arvydas Sabonis (10.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg), F Brian Grant (15.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg), F Rasheed Wallace (12.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Isaiah Rider (19.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg), G Damon Stoudamire (10.2 ppg, 5.7 apg), G Jim Jackson (20.6 mpg, 9.0 ppg), G Greg Anthony (17.6 mpg, 4.9 ppg), F Walt Williams (14.1 mpg, 5.0 ppg), F Stacey Augmon (13.8 mpg, 2.6 ppg).
Season series: Spurs won, 3-1. All the games were very close, with San Antonio winning the final three meetings -- all in the final two weeks of the season. Duncan rose to the occasion in two of those victories. Rider sat out Portland's only victory because of an NBA suspension, and Sabonis had a big fourth quarter in that game.
Data: San Antonio will constantly drive the ball toward the basket, and has had success drawing contact from Portland's big men. Four of the games will be played before crowds of about 30,000 at the Alamodome, where the teams met twice in the final two weeks of the season -- both Spurs' victories. Duncan is having a superb postseason.
But Portland's front line of Sabonis, Wallace and Grant is big enough and strong enough to defend Duncan and Robinson to a certain degree, and all three players can get Duncan or Robinson into trouble if they are aggressive offensively. Anthony can help contain Johnson, who has hurt Portland in the past, and the Blazers can turn to several three-point shooters -- Jackson, Williams, Rider and Stoudamire.