PORTLAND, Ore. — Over the past decade, the San Antonio Spurs have won one NBA championship (2013-14) while remaining one of the premier teams in the league, winning at least 50 games every season.
Yet no opponent has given the Spurs more problems than the Portland Trail Blazers, who play host to them Wednesday night at Moda Center in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Portland is 19-13 against San Antonio, 10-4 at home. Last season, the teams split four meetings.
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“The first reason is (the Trail Blazers) have had good teams all through the years,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said last season. “The other thing is they have great fans and one of the best home-court advantages in the league, so it’s hard to win at their place.”
The Blazers (16-14) stand tied for fifth in the Western Conference standings, amid a jumble of five teams packed together. Ninth-place Utah (14-17) is only 2 1/2 games behind Portland and the Denver Nuggets.
Portland is coming off a five-game trip in which it went 3-2 with bookending losses to Golden State and Minnesota, the latter 108-107 on Monday night. The Blazers lost to two of the four top teams in the West and beat three Eastern Conference teams that are .500 or lower, perhaps a fair appraisal of where they are at the 30-game mark.
“We are a team trying to find our way,” said point guard Damian Lillard, who is tied for seventh in the NBA at 25.5 points per game.
Portland shooting guard CJ McCollum added, “We could be a mediocre team, we could be an above-average team or we could be a great team.”
The Blazers have been all of the above so far this season.
“We know we are a playoff team, but are we a home-court-advantage-in-the-first-round team?” power forward Ed Davis asked. “Or are we going against Golden State in the first round? That’s a big difference.”
San Antonio (21-10) has won two in a row and 10 of 13, including a 109-91 pasting of the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at AT&T Center.
The Spurs will sit point guard Tony Parker and small forward Kawhi Leonard on Wednesday night as part of Popovich’s injury-management program. San Antonio plays at Utah on Thursday night, and Popovich chooses not to play either in both games of back-to-back situations.
Leonard missed the first 27 games and Parker the first 19 this season, both due to serious quadriceps injuries.
Parker scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and added seven assists in 23 minutes against the Clippers.
Leonard has played three of the past four games. He scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 16 minutes vs. the Clippers — all in the first half. It was the first time in 110 games the two-time All-Star did not score in double figures.
San Antonio’s Kyle Anderson (knee) and Danny Green (groin) are probable for Wednesday night.
“We are trying to get as healthy as we can and get everybody back in a flow,” Green told the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s tough with guys on minutes restrictions. Guys are in and out; some can’t play back-to-backs. Hopefully by the All-Star break, we should have everybody 100 percent.”