Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland analyzed some potential X-Factors in each playoff series. In the Spurs-Jazz series, Pruiti identified the Spurs pick-and-roll game and, subsequently, the Jazz’ inability to defend the pick-and-roll as the definitive X-Factor.
From Pruiti, himself. “According to Synergy Sports, San Antonio runs the pick-and-roll 23.4 percent of the time on offense. Of those plays, 65 percent end with the ball handler finishing the play, and the Spurs post the league’s seventh-best PPP (0.840) in those situations. The Jazz struggle to contain pick-and-roll ball handlers, giving up 0.872 PPP in those situations, which is second-worst in the league. In their regular-season games this year, the Jazz point guards haven’t been able to contain Tony Parker.”
Such as this play …
And this one …
Along with Tiago Splitter, one of the elite screeners in the league, the Spurs’ pick-and-roll game is nearly infallible. Realistically the Spurs can throw out DeJuan Blair, an aggressive roller that is limited offensively, Boris Diaw, an adept passer off pick-and-rolls, and Matt Bonner, a floor spacing four that pops out to the 3-point line effectively.
Not that Spurs fans needed any more reasons to feel confident in a Spurs sweep or, at worst, a five-game series though. The Jazz has drawn comparisons to Memphis, therefore leaving the Spurs theoretically susceptible to another upset. But that doesn’t seem valid this year. First, and simply, the Spurs are better. Second, Jefferson and Millsap are talented but they aren’t as skilled as Gasol and Randolph. Third, Memphis had some talented wings that could play excellent defense and attack offensively. Utah doesn’t really have that luxury.
Millsap and Jefferson combined for 36 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1 but I’m still anticipating a lot of 100 point outbursts with plenty of ball movement. That sounds a lot better than last year, right?