Apr 27, 2012, 5:27 AM EDT
San Antonio 50-16 (1 seed)
Utah: 36-30 (8 seed)
San Antonio won the season series 3-1 and Utah’s only win was against the Spurs on a night the Big 3 rested. Not exactly an encouraging sign for the Jazz.
San Antonio: The Spurs are (gulp) healthy going into the playoffs.
OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)
San Antonio: offense 108.5 (1st); defense 100.6 (10th)
Utah: offense 103.7 (15th); defense 103.6 (13th)
THREE KEY SPURS:
Tony Parker: Parker should be able to have his way with the Jazz’ defense. By creating penetration and kicking to the Spurs array of shooters, their offense will hit its high gear and punish the slower rotations for Utah. His work in the pick and roll will be equally important.
DeJuan Blair: Blair has to at least make an impact to offset Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Tim Duncan will do his part. Blair’s ability to contribute anything at either end will help the Spurs avoid a lengthy fight.
Matt Bonner: Bonner has been an absolute Jazz killer this season and the Jazz are 12 points better than the Spurs with him off the court, 27 points worse with him on. He murdered Utah this year and if he does that again, Utah can’t keep pace offensively.
THREE KEY JAZZ
Paul Millsap: With Duncan likely on Al Jefferson, it’ll be up to Millsap and his range to keep the Spurs honest and punish them from mid-range. Millsap has to be the star who leads Utah against San Antonio.
Gordon Hayward: Hayward gets to enjoy being the Jazz’ best wing weapon while being matched up against Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson. This is a time for heroes. Jazz fans better hope Hayward is ready to be one.
Alec Burks. The Jazz need someone to step up on the perimeter and hit huge shots. The rookie would be a good candidate. Despite a poor shooting percentage, Burks can light it up.
The Spurs are superior in just about every way. There’s just not an area in which the Spurs aren’t the phenomenally better team. That said, Utah’s homecourt should allow them to steal one. On the surface, you’re tempted to say the Jazz remind you of the Grizzlies last year, but the Jazz aren’t nearly as good defensively, and struggle with defending the pick and roll.
Good luck with that, chief. The Spurs are better than last year, the Jazz aren’t as good as Memphis. No upsets here, kids. Utah’s awesome home court avoids the sweep.
San Antonio in a “Gentleman’s Sweep,” 4-1
- Report: Heat offer Chris Bosh full max contract to keep him from Rockets 0
- PBT Extra: LeBron James returns to Cleveland to try and cement legacy 3
- Deal set: Lakers trade for Jeremy Lin, which for L.A. is largely about draft pick (as is Gasol for Boozer idea) 18
- Carmelo Anthony still not ready to decide, but he needs to soon as options dry up 38
- Report: With LeBron James heading to Cleveland, Kevin Love would commit to Cavaliers long term if traded there 57
- Report: Lakers finalizing trade for Rockets’ Jeremy Lin 66
- LeBron to Cleveland first domino, what’s next? Bosh to Rockets, and much more 63
- LeBron James in his own words on why he chose Cleveland 95