Offensive rating: Spurs – 114.4, Jazz – 93.0
Defensive rating: Spurs – 93.0, Jazz – 114.4
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: FSSW, TNT
Three things to watch
The end is near. Thankfully, this series will be over. The Jazz, frontcourt advantage aside, are clearly no match for the vastly superior Spurs. They don’t have the talent nor do they have the depth to sufficiently keep up with San Antonio. Utah’s backcourt is severely underwhelming and their froncourt talent is all but neutralized by their deficient shooting ability. Defenses are able to help off shooters without any fear of consequence — Utah is 27th in 3-point percentage — making it considerably more difficult for Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to operate. Utah needs to address their shooting in the off season because it hampers their offensive effectiveness. Their offense has a lot of room to grow — they were sixth in offensive rating — regardless of their obvious flaws. For the time being, however, they will just have to succumb to the Spurs, either tonight or Wednesday, and work on improving their emerging core. It’s inevitable.
Devin Harris. Devin Harris finally played well enough for the Spurs to make a conscious effort in stopping him on the offensive side. When Harris is attacking the rim, there aren’t a lot of point guards quick enough to prevent from getting to his spots. The problem for Utah is that he and Gordon Hayward are the only players that are able to take their man and create off the dribble. To prevent him from impacting the game offensively, we might see Gregg Popovich defend him with Danny Green and Manu Ginobili when the Jazz go to a small backcourt. Green and Ginobili are both excellent defenders and their length will pose an immediate threat to Harris.
Anticipating our next opponent. If the Clippers were to win tonight, that would put them in the drivers seat for a second round berth against the Spurs. And, given the choice between Memphis and the Clippers, I would welcome that matchup. The Clippers aren’t going to make a ton of mistakes with the ball — their second-ranked turnover rate withstanding — and Chris Paul is one of the few point guards that can match, and probably surpass, Tony Parker’s production. The luxury the Spurs have is that Parker doesn’t need to consistently outplay Paul for the Spurs to win. The Spurs’ depth can adequately fill his role. That luxury — for context, the Clippers are relying on normally offensive black hole, Reggie Evans, for 20-plus minutes a night — is one that the Clippers do not have. In a seven game playoff series, their inability to throw multiple looks at the Spurs will make it very hard for them to close the gap.
Final verdict. Spurs by double-digits. Do specifics matter, anymore?