Portland Trail Blazers

Nicolas Batum Says Blazers Must 'Be More Angry' to Beat San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 6: Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Semi-Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 6, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images
Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

Nicolas Batum has a pretty simple formula for improving the Portland Trail Blazers' performance against the seemingly unbeatable San Antonio Spurs.

Credit Batum for keeping things basic. It'll certainly help the Blazers to play with more of an edge, and the perfect focus necessary to compete with San Antonio might come from anger. But let's remember something important here: The Spurs do not understand human emotion, and they do not respond to it.

San Antonio clubbed the Blazers in Game 1, coasting to a 116-92 win that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. On the strength of brilliant schemes that attacked Damian Lillard and a refusal to double LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs completely dictated the terms of engagement against the inexperienced Blazers.

In the aftermath, Lillard could only marvel at the ruthless efficiency of his opponent.

It's good that Lillard acknowledges the reality of this series. Beating San Antonio is a herculean task—especially now that it appears that the Spurs have hit their stride, following a difficult series against the Dallas Mavericks.

Some folks, though, need a little reminder about how the Spurs conduct business in the playoffs.

Getting mad might help, but there's also a chance it'll backfire on Portland. San Antonio feasts on mistakes, and it makes fools of the overly aggressive by executing with cold impassivity.

You get upset. The Spurs get surgical.

Emotion can be a great motivator, but maybe the Blazers should focus more intently on hiding Lillard defensively. And perhaps a few tweaks to get open shots for role players like Batum and Wesley Matthews would be helpful. In Game 1, that duo combined to shoot just 5-of-18 from the field.

Portland won't get far if the threes don't start falling, either. If San Antonio holds the Blazers to just four made triples again, the Blazers will really have something to get mad about.

Because they'll be staring at the wrong end of an 0-2 deficit.

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