After victories earlier this week for both the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz, the first round matchup between the NBA‘s Western Conference number one seed, the Spurs, and the eighth seed Jazz has been determined. The Spurs come in with one of the best records this season, while the Jazz sneaked in after collapses by the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.
This series marks the first time the Spurs and Jazz have played in the playoffs since 2007, when the Spurs downed the Jazz in five en route to their last NBA Championship. This season, the Spurs have won three of four against the Jazz, with the lone loss a second night of a back to back in which Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were not even allowed to board the plane to Utah. Let’s get straight to the breakdown of this series.
Spurs Offense vs Jazz Defense
I don’t care who the Spurs are playing, they have been scoring pretty much at will. At 103.5 points per game, they are second in the league. The Jazz allow 99.1 points per game. In the three games the Big 3 have played, the Spurs have scored 104, 106, and 114 points. I expect that trend to continue.
Spurs Defense vs Jazz Offense
San Antonio’s strength used to be playing defensive lockdown on teams and not allowing them to do anything they wanted. They can still do that at times, but the Jazz have just enough offensive weapons that I feel that the Spurs could struggle at times. In those three Spurs victories, Utah scored 89, 102, and 104. It’s not as if they were not in the games, because they were.
Spurs Coaching vs Jazz Coaching
This one isn’t even hard. Gregg Popovich, one of the best coaches in the NBA. Tyrone Corbin, head coach of the Jazz, is a younger guy with minimal coaching experience. Big advantage to the Spurs.
Spurs Bench vs Jazz Bench
The San Antonio Spurs have one of the deepest benches in the league, having played in a plethora of games. In a few games this season, the Spurs bench have scored more than half the teams points. Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, and either Tiago Splitter, DeJuan Blair, or Matt Bonner coming off the bench give the Spurs an undersized, but formidable lineup.
Spurs 4 - Jazz 1
I’ll take the Spurs in five. With a compressed schedule, I could see Popovich giving his stars a night off, especially if the Spurs are up 3-0. If the 4/5 matchup is going to go to six or seven games, that still gives the Spurs a few extra nights off.
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