Posted by: KCJones on March 22nd, 2013The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Competition Level. The Jazz are notorious for playing up–and down–to it.
The Spurs are cruising along the road that is their 2012-13 season in a Ferrari with new rims while the Jazz are riding a covered wagon with it’s back wheel falling off. At least that’s what it feels like. The Spurs are sitting atop the western conference standings, already garnering 52 wins with still 14 left to play. They could easily join the 60-win club this season. For perspective, the Jazz only hit 60+ wins TWICE in their entire history (with 62 and 64 wins), the two years we went to the finals and lost to the Chicago Michael Jordans. So that’s the team that our Jazz, who are (supposedly..you wouldn’t think so watching them) fighting for their playoff lives, will be playing tonight. Even still, the Jazz have beat every good team in the West this season except the Clippers, and like I mentioned above, they tend to judge the skill of their opponent and then play accordingly to that level, so I don’t really know what to expect out of them tonight. The window of opportunity is almost closed for the Jazz, but a win tonight would creak it open a bit more for them. The Jazz are fully healthy, which has usually been a recipe for Ty to play the wrong guys. He’s a much better coach when veteran starters are hurt and he’s forced to play the young guys. Tony Parker for the Spurs is returning for the Spurs after three weeks out with an ankle sprain.
Season Matchup Recap
This is our last game against the Spurs this season. That is, unless we sneak into the 8th seed. You might be thinking that the Spurs would like to let us win this game, and face the Jazz instead of the Lakers in the first round. But I don’t really think they’re scared of the Lakers. Anywho here’s this season’s matchup recap:
- Nov. 3 – LOSS 110-100
- Dec. 12 – WIN 99-96 (Last second three from Hero Mo for the win)
The Spurs just destroy us. Parker can penetrate at will because Duncan knows how to set screens, and once a guard penetrates into the paint against the Jazz, we are toast because there’s an Al Jefferson down there who escorts driving guards down the lane to the rim. This of course causes all sorts of other Jazz players who WANT to win games and play defense to try to help defend from the perimeter, leaving open 3-point slayers like the Red Bonnet (Bonner). This usually results in lots of points and assists for Tony Parker. We did win our second matchup at home behind a huge game from Millsap (10-15 for 24 points with 12 rebounds) and Gordon Hayward off the bench (7-14 and 19 pts, 6 assists 7 reb) and a Hero Ball Mo game-winner at the end to break the tie. Al had a decent game as well (10-18 with 21 points 4 assists).
Look Out For…
1. Tony Parker. Will he be a step slow from three weeks off recovering from ankle sprain or will he be his usual Jazz-defense-dissecting self?
2. The Jazz vets. Corbin has stuck with these guys all year when perhaps he shouldn’t have, and it’s coming back to bite him in the arse as the effort of his ‘veteran players he must play to win yet somehow always put the team in a hole in the 1st and 3rd quarter and rely on the bench to get us back in the game’ have put forth a ridiculously lackluster effort in the last stretch of games where you would think they are fighting for playoff position and new contracts. Millsap, Jefferson and Mo in particular.
3. The referees. Is it just me or are the referees in on the ‘get Lakers in the playoffs’ sentiment in the NBA? There sure were a lot of crappy calls in the Houston game that squashed our comeback.
If I Were the Gameplanner
Defensive plan. As with all teams who rely heavily on their point guard to create and direct the offense, I think you have to do everything you can to delay and disrupt that. You have to hound him as he brings the ball down. You double-team him sometimes right as he goes over the half court line adn force him to pass. When they try and run the pick and roll, you force him out as far as you can, but force him to shoot it. I would rather live with T-P taking threes all game then him getting into the lane (remember Al-Jeff is down there!) for layups, roll/pop passes to Duncan or kickouts to three pointers. Secondly, you gotta rotate. Spurs swing the ball around the perimeter so well to find the guy in the corner for a three and the Jazz are terrible at getting out to those guys. Lastly, if a guy is hot from three, you just stay home on him and make him a driver. Like Bonner. This is a tough thing for a big like Favors who wants to defend in the paint. I’d put Marvin in if they try to matchup Bonner on Favors. Also, you HAVE to box out and get the rebound, as this starts the fast break, which ties into my
Offensive plan. I think the Jazz have a chance at winning in a game of athletecism and fast pace, but their chances go down in a half-court game, as the Spurs are probably THE best team at a half-court game. Mo actually fits into that plan, if he could just make good decisions on when its not wise to shoot himself and when it is, and to remember that he’s trying to get his team involved. I actually think Favors on Duncan is a much better matchup than Jefferson on Duncan. I’d love to run the Favors + Hayward/Burks pick and roll at Duncan all game. I would normally think Millsap could be a great offensive threat as well, creating from the mid-range angle, but with his recent play and attitude, I’m not confident in that.
Hope you like the preview. There’s usually a lull of postings right before a game and this hopefully helps fill that. I’ve been thinking of doing them for every game similar to how TacoRev does the Post-Game. Let me know what you all think.
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