Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs: Gameday Preview

The San Antonio Spurs (60-19) look to extend their winning streak to four games at home tonight against the Utah Jazz (37-42).

The Spurs are coming off a 32-point blow out of the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and the Jazz are coming off an 11-point loss to Portland on Thursday.

The Chicago Bulls (59-20) are only one game behind the Spurs for the best record in the NBA. The Spurs will be looking to extend their lead in that race with a win, although a win over the Jazz will not be easy as Utah recently beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Where The Spurs Are Today

After enduring a six game losing streak a week ago, the Spurs have found their winning ways with two victories against the Phoenix Suns and Kings. They also won in Atlanta against the fifth seeded team in the Eastern conference.

In the game against the Kings Wednesday, the Spurs outscored the Kings 73-43 in the second half. Their offense has found it’s rhythm due to more efficient passing, less turnovers and the shots were finally going in at a high percentage. But the one major detail in the Spurs’ recent improvement is their focused attention to defense. In the win against the Kings, the Spurs held the Kings to 21 third quarter points and 22 fourth quarter points. In the Atlanta victory, the Spurs held the Hawks to 19 points at the end of the third quarter.

George Hill has begun to increase his production right before the playoffs begin as he has scored 20.3 points per game during the current three game win streak.

Where the Jazz Are Today

The Spurs are ahead 2-0 in the season series versus Utah but they haven’t played he Jazz with the post-Williams roster.

Utah is 1-9 in their last 10 games. Their only victory in that stretch was at home against the Lakers, in which rookie Gordon Hayward scored 22-points.

Since Deron Williams was traded to New Jersey, the Jazz are 6-16. Al Jefferson has been their number one option as he has had seven 30-plus-point games in the post Williams era.

Jazz forward Paul Millsap has also been producing lately as he is averaging 20.67 points in his last three games. C.J. Miles, Hayward and Devin Harris have also led the Jazz since Williams was traded.

What the number’s tell us?

Location: The Spurs are 35-5 at home and the Jazz are 17-22 on the road.

Scoring: The Spurs are ranked number six (103.7 points) as the Jazz are ranked number 15 (99.4 points).

Rebounding: The Spurs are ranked number 13 (41.9 rebounds) as the Jazz are ranked number 26 (39.7 rebounds).

Passing: The Spurs are ranked number seven in passing (22.4 assists) as the Jazz are ranked number five in passing (23.3 assists).

Defense: The Spurs are ranked number 14 (97.8 points) while the Jazz are ranked number 19 (101.4 points).

In Order for the Spurs to win they need to focus on:

Passing: the passing has opened more high percentage shots and gotten the offense to fast break more aggressively for easy transition baskets. Five players scored in double figures in the win against the Kings. Every player who played in the game scored except for one.

Guard Play: Parker, Ginobili and Hill have been attacking defenses by sharing their scoring outbursts in quarter-to-quarter play. An example of this was evident in the Kings game as Hill had 12-points in the third quarter and Ginobili took care of his work in the fourth quarter.

Defense: The defense needs to continue showing the progression it has recently shown in flashes by holding opponents to score less than 24-points per quarter.

In Order for the Jazz to win they need to focus on:

Defense: The Jazz give up 101 points per game which is a shade under the Spurs’ usual 104 points per game. If the Jazz can limit transition baskets and “hope” the Spurs have a bad shooting night, they’ll have a chance of winning.

Third-Fourth scorer: Al Jefferson and Millsap will be expected to get their usual number but the Jazz will need more production in order to keep up with the Spurs’ spread offense. Miles, Hayward, and Harris must be there to be relied on and produce.

Who wins?

The Jazz lost last Sunday by nine points to the team (Kings) that the Spurs just demolished by 32-points. Even though the Jazz did beat the Lakers, Utah has only won six games since February 23. The Spurs have only lost at home five times this entire season. Unless the Jazz get a monster game by four of their players, I see the Spurs winning 102 to 91. What do you think?

Follow Paul on Twitter: @24writer | Email Paul at: paul@projectspurs.com 

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX and the 2013 NBA Finals.

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