Game one and two are over. The San Antonio Spurs won both games by double-digits as the Utah Jazz have yet to make this contest look like an actual playoff series. Now the playoff series moves to Salt Lake City, where the Jazz held a 25-8 record in Energy Solutions Arena. The fans will be motivated to cheer on their home team, but the question remains if the Jazz themselves have the fight to make this a series, and avoid going down 3-0 to the Spurs.
Just because the Jazz have a great home record, don’t think the Spurs will be too intimidated. This complete Spurs team, the one on a 12-game winning streak, has yet to lose a road game when playing at full strength. As I wrote in my season review, the Spurs were 12-9 after losing in Dallas in overtime on January 29. From then on, they finished the season 38-7. As far as the road goes, the Spurs ended the year with a 22-11 road record. After January 29, the Spurs would only lose three road games through the rest of the season. They lost in Portland on a night that head coach Gregg Popovich elected to rest the entire “Big Three” of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili. They lost once more in Dallas on the first game Stephen Jackson made his debut in a Spurs uniform, but it’s important to note that Boris Diaw and Patty Mills hadn’t been added to the team, and the Spurs lost late in the season in Utah, when once again coach Popovich decided to rest the “Big Three.”
So essentially, not only do the Jazz have to try to slow down Parker and the Spurs’ offensive attack, but they also have to stop an undefeated road team in the process.
Spurs vs. Jazz Playoff Statistics
- 1. Points: Spurs (110) – Jazz (87) = Spurs
- 2. Assists: Spurs (26.5) – Jazz (16.5) = Spurs
- 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (52.4%) – Jazz (38%) = Spurs
- 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (41%) – Jazz (26.3%) = Spurs
- 5. Turnovers: Spurs (11) – Jazz (15.5) = Spurs
- 6. Rebounds: Spurs (41.5) – Jazz (44) = Jazz
- 7. Personal Fouls: Spurs (18) – Jazz (20) = Spurs
Statistical Leader: Spurs 6-1
Analyzing the Spurs’ offense and the Jazz’ defense
The Spurs have been doing just about everything right on offense. They’re scoring, they’re passing as a team, they’re executing in the pick-and-roll, which has allowed them shoot high percentages. They’ve done a good job of limiting their turnovers, and they’re pushing the tempo, which makes them one of the toughest offenses to stop. Parker is the catalyst for the Spurs’ attack, and as Corbin said, as he goes, so goes the Spurs.
The Jazz’ defense just hasn’t shown any type of defensive sets that can slow down Parker or the Spurs. The Jazz came into game two with a few new looks to throw at Parker, but instead of getting in the paint and scoring at will, he got into the paint and found his open teammates. The Jazz threw some double teams at him, they had different individuals guard him, but nothing worked. They’ve had two days to look at film and come up with a new defensive game plan, but as Duncan said after the game, Parker has seen everything a defense can throw at him and he will continue to stay aggressive. The dangerous part about the Jazz allowing Parker to become a facilitator first, is it allows the younger guys like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to take more shots and build their confidence level, and if those shots go in, the Spurs become almost impossible to defeat. I forget which player or coach said it before or after the game on Wednesday, but someone said it’s a “pick your poison” type of decision with Parker playing at this MVP level right now.
Analyzing the Spurs’ defense and the Jazz’ offense
Defensively, the Spurs have taken the Jazz out of everything they want to do. Credit the Spurs’ frontline for making Utah’s big men uncomfortable and making them play in places on the floor out of their comfort zone. Boris Diaw and Duncan have really held their own against the big men from Utah, and even that lineup with Derrick Favors, Jefferson, and Millsap hasn’t been as effective as advertised. Devin Harris has been horrific for the Jazz to start the series. He averages just 6 points, and more turnovers (3.5) than assists (1.5). The Jazz ended the regular season in winning fashion, with Harris increasing his production. If he’s a non-factor on offense, Parker will continue to feel he can do whatever he wants against Utah. The Spurs did a much better job on Hayward in game two, as they held him to just two free throws, as opposed to the 12 he shot in game one. Coach Pop said after game two that the Jazz had a bad night, because they just couldn’t put the ball in hole. Yes, the Jazz had a few shots that were open and didn’t go in, but the majority of them were contested or forced jumpers or drives at the rim that made the Spurs’ defense defended excellently. In the first half of game two, the Spurs held the Jazz to just 28 points, 28 points in a playoff game. The one area the Spurs could look to improve in is fouling and rebounding, but the Jazz will probably continue to outrebound the Spurs just because they miss so many jumpers, which makes more boards available for them.
The Jazz’ offense simply doesn’t have enough firepower to throw at the Spurs, and this Jazz team wasn’t built as a defensive-half court team. They play right into the Spurs’ hands because they want to run up and down the floor. It’s just not going to happen with the personnel on Utah’s lineup. Look at it this way, the Jazz have only attempted 19 combined threes in this series, the Spurs have attempted 39. Think about that, the Spurs have had 48 combined points come from three point land so far, the Jazz just 15 points.
Utah’s crowd will be there to support their team tonight, but regardless, I just don’t see the Jazz’ offense being able to keep up with the Spurs for a full 48-minutes. The Jazz will throw more different defensive looks at Parker, but if Harris continues to stay a non-factor, then Parker can continue to use all of his energy on offense. My prediction is the Spurs winning by five to 10 points, and preparing to close out the series on Monday night.