Offensive rating: Spurs – 110.9 (1st), Jazz – 106.8 (6th)
Defensive rating: Spurs – 103.2 (10th), Jazz – 106.1 (19th)
Pace: Spurs – 92.9 (7th), Jazz – 91.4 (12th)
Time: 6 p.m.
TV: FSSW, TNT
Three things to watch
Tiago Splitter. With Tiago Splitter doubtful with a wrist injury, the Spurs frontcourt will be depleted tonight. In four games against the Jazz, the Spurs outscore their opponents by 17.2 points per 100 possessions more than they do when Splitter is relegated to the bench, according to NBA Stats Cube. Splitter’s ability to create space in pick-and-rolls and finish at the rim will be sorely missed against a team that struggles at defending pick-and-rolls consistently.
Boris Diaw. I promise this will be the last time where I obsessively pine for Diaw’s services. Well, actually, I can’t guarantee that this will be the case. Regardless, I’m pretty excited that Pop has shown immense trust in a guy that was struggling on the worst team in the league about, say, six weeks ago. In 26:27 of action in Game 1, Diaw totaled nine points, five rebounds and 80 percent shooting.
Transition defense. This is a little nit picky but the Spurs did struggle in getting back and preventing easy points through transition offense. On 10 turnovers, the Jazz created 23 points (2.3 points per turnover) which made the game a lot closer than it actually should’ve been. But the Spurs still won by 15 points. If the Jazz are to make this a series they will need to continue to gain extra possessions through offensive rebounds and transition offense. Also, more than seven points from their starting backcourt would also be conducive to a playoff victory.
Final verdict. Spurs by seven. Utah should get more production from their backcourt and losing Splitter for this game will hurt the Spurs, albeit slightly.