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NBA Playoff preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

Apr 27, 2012, 5:27 AM EDT

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Gregg Popovich AP

SEASON RECORDS


San Antonio 50-16 (1 seed)
Utah: 36-30 (8 seed)

SEASON SERIES


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.

KEY INJURIES

San Antonio: The Spurs are (gulp) healthy going into the playoffs.

Utah: Earl Watson is out for the year following knee surgery. Josh Howard is only one game back from a serious knee injury.

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.

OUTLOOK

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.

PREDICTION

San Antonio in a “Gentleman’s Sweep,” 4-1

  1. lemfax - Apr 27, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    Utha’s Gordon Hayward: the only dangerous weapon they got. Hope they can play up to game 5

  2. jmclarkent - Apr 27, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    I would wager that you haven’t caught the Jazz much this year…

  3. jerseyfinatic - Apr 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Really? I didn’t know a 1 seed could play the 6 seed? Interesting……..

  4. borderline1988 - Apr 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    The Jazz have a bright future – they’re loaded with great big men, and if Harris continues to play like a borderline all-star, the Jazz have a good chance to be contenders in a couple years (they just need some more guards).

    I actually think the Jazz will give the Spurs more trouble than most think, b/c of those aggressive frontcourt players, but they will get destroyed in the backcourt. They simply cannot guard the Spurs on the perimeter, and their frontcourt is not good enough to protect the basket or defend the pick & roll.

    Spurs in 6. The games in Utah will be close and the Jazz could win them both, but the Spurs will blow them out at home and win at least one in Utah.

  5. ragingmouse - Apr 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Agree with you 100% !

  6. lemfax - Apr 27, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Spurs 4-0

  7. lemfax - Apr 27, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Bulls 4-1
    Indiana 4-0
    Miami 4-3
    Boston 4-3
    Spurs 4-0
    Memphis 4-2
    Thunder 4-0
    Denver 4-3

    Bulls vs Indiana 4-2
    Miami vs Boston 4-2
    Spurs vs Memphis 4-2
    Thunder vs Denver 4-1

    Miami vs Bulls 4-2
    Spurs vs Thunder 4-1

    Spurs vs Miami 4-3 (Wade would missed game 7)

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