The Trail Blazers returned to Portland in a seemingly bottomless hole after going down two games to none against the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs.
Now the Blazers will be at home for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Sunday. And while Portland coach Terry Stotts says Moda Center will provide a lift for his team, he warns that homecourt advantage does not guarantee an easier road to travel.
Theres no question that home court is an advantage, Stotts says. But we cant rely just on that. Being at home doesnt guarantee anything, but it certainly is an advantage. The Moda Center is one of the best places to play in the league.
The Blazers looked outmatched in their 116-92 loss in Game 1 and 114-97 loss in Game 2. Stotts says the Spurs have upped their intensity and focus after going to Game 7 in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks.
Theyre playing a higher brand of basketball than they did in the first round, Stotts says of the Spurs. Thats to be expected. They have a championship pedigree, and they know what it takes.
The Blazers have had terrible starts to the first two games. In Game 1, San Antonio led 65-39 at halftime in Game 1 and 70-51 at intermission of Game 2. Given how big of a lead the Spurs had at halftime in both games, it is a bit of a hallow stat, but Portland did win both second halves, outscoring San Antonio 53-51 in the second half in Game 1 and 46-44 in the second half of Game 2.
Stotts says the only way the Blazers can beat the Spurs is by playing a complete game from start to finish.
We need to play 48 minutes, Stotts says. If we get off to a good start and its tied at half, we need to play a good third quarter. Against a team like San Antonio, its not just the start. We have to play a good first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter.
The Blazers have a chance to turn the series around if they are able to defend home court over the next two games. Stotts wants Portland only be focused on Game 3, though.
The mind-set is Game 3, Stotts says. Were not looking at the next two games. Even though were coming home, we know how hard were going to have to work to get a win tomorrow night. Were certainly not down and out. The mind-set is to go out and compete and play a better full 48 minutes.