(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers will meet in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series Tuesday night at AT&T Center.
The Spurs advanced after a grueling seven-game series with the Dallas Mavericks. Portland moved on after a massively entertaining 4-2 series win over the Houston Rockets.
"It's obviously one heck of a team. We had trouble with them all year long," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the Blazers. "They have guys we haven't' guarded yet. They're very talented, young, energetic."
The two teams split two matchups this season with each team winning once at home, and once on the road. The Spurs are 5-4 in their last nine as the host in this series, while the Blazers are 9-2 against San Antonio in Portland.
San Antonio ranked sixth in the NBA in opponents' scoring during the regular season, which will be needed since the Blazers finished fourth in scoring. The Spurs should have an advantage on the offensive side, ranking sixth during the season. Portland was just 22nd defensively.
The Blazers came of age a bit during this postseason.
LaMarcus Aldridge is a multiple-time All-Star, but he scored 46 and 43 points in the first two games against the Rockets. He cooled a bit after that, but that was the only direction he could go.
Damian Lillard was equally fantastic and hit the game-winning 3-pointer to take Game 6.
Portland closed out its series on Friday night, bringing up the age-old question come playoff time - does rest matter?
"Whenever you can gain some rest, no matter if you're young or old, it's certainly welcome, especially when you go deep into a series," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts.
Popovich was philosophical in his answer.
"If it was rest, you'd say that's great. Since you don't get the rest, you say, 'well, we're really ready to go.' Slice it anyway you want," said Popovich. "Psycho-babble."
Pop's Big Three was dynamic against the Mavs, and that great play was needed.
Tony Parker averaged 19.9 points against the Mavericks and was unstoppable during stretches of the Game 7 drubbing. Parker scored 32 points in the deciding game and shot 11-for-19 and 10-for-13 from the foul line.
Tim Duncan posted 17.3 ppg and 8.4 rebounds, all the while blocking almost two shots a game in 35 minutes a night.
Manu Ginobili, who really struggled in the playoffs last year, put up almost 18 points per game versus Dallas.
The Spurs and Blazers will meet in the postseason for the first time since 1999. Fifteen years ago, the Spurs swept the Blazers. Duncan is the only player remaining from that squad.
For Portland, none of its starting five was in high school then, so that sweep can't be counted on for much.
One could set his or her watch to San Antonio's postseason success. The Spurs have made the playoffs every year since Duncan's arrival back in the mid 90s. They've won four titles and are the measuring stick for every other franchise in the association.
Game 2 will be in the Alamo City on Thursday night.