The Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night, making a San Antonio Spurs-Utah Jazz first round match up official. Once it looked like the the San Antonio and Utah would meet up, people started talking about Utah's size and how it could give San Antonio trouble just like Memphis did last season. Could it be that the Spurs got the worst possible match up for the second year in a row that ultimately mean their demise? The short answer is no, but let's analyze why.
In case you didn't know, the Jazz have some really good front court players in Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and the emerging Derrick Favors. Before we go forward let me just say I LOVE Derrick Favors' game. I would consider trading anyone on the Spurs' roster not named Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to get that guy. He's on his way to becoming the best defensive big man in the league. Still, he's not close to being that guy yet. And as much as I really enjoy watching Millsap and Big Al, they're not Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Both are undersized for their position and neither are above average defenders. When Favors comes in, it becomes easy to key in on either Millsap or Jefferson. Also, Jefferson has such an indifference to passing out of the post, that it's easy to key in on him and not worry about Favors killing you diving to the basket if Big Al gets double teamed. The Jazz front line presents problems for San Antonio, but nothing coach Gregg Popovich and crew can't game plan for.
The other major difference between this season and last season's first round match ups is this Spurs team is much better equipped to face big front lines than last year's squad.
First off, they're deeper than last year's team. There's five bigs who get regular minutes on any given night for this year's roster as opposed to four guys last year.
Second, Paul Millsap being 6'8" and Al Jefferson being 6'10" means a guy like DeJuan Blair won't be at the extreme disadvantage he was last year. Also, the Spurs have the advantage on offense if you've got say Favors and Jefferson on the court at the same time matched up with Matt Bonner and Tim Duncan. If Favors is guarding Bonner, that means he's far, far away from the basket, opening the lane for Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, etc. If Favors is guarding Duncan, that means Jefferson who isn't the swiftest guy has to guard Bonner, which means the "Red Rocket" will likely get a ton of open looks.
But Utah's Millsap thinks otherwise.
"On the offensive end, it creates mismatches for everyone. On the defensive end, you've got me out there roaming, trying to get my hand on the basketball, and we've got two shot-blockers down the middle. So we've got the best of both worlds on the defensive end."
One last note. Lately the Jazz have been going to this super-sized trio playing Millsap at small forward alongside Favors and Jefferson down low. This might provide a problem for the Spurs in spurts, but ultimately the Spurs can go small (or put Bonner in), spread the ball around and make Favors and Millsap chase them around. When the Spurs are on defense, they can likely sag off at least one of the Jazz perimeter players to double down on Millsap or Jefferson.
Obviously it'd be easier for the Spurs to be playing a small team like the Phoenix Suns in the first round, but the 2011-2012 Utah Jazz aren't the 2010-2011 Memphis Grizzlies. Their frontline isn't the monster Memphis' was last season and their guards and small forwards aren't as good or as experienced. More importantly the 2011-2012 San Antonio Spurs aren't the 2010-2011 San Antonio Spurs. There's depth here and the "Three Amigos" are healthy, so yes, I like their chances in the first round.
honestly they are the team that have to match up to us, unless they are out rebounding us crazily they have not shot at winning games against us.
Sas should not try to match size for size. They tried that vs lal and got killed. Odd for me to say but sas has to run on jazz
@JeffProjectSpurs I disagree Jeff. The one loss to la we didn't even remotely try to match size. Blair started and bonner got minutes. The other to we matched up size plus defense with splitter starting and Diaw defending gasol while Duncan spent a bunch of time on Bynum. In a series that's tougher though.
I actually like the idea of Utah going with all 3 guys. Leonard's length is a huge advantage on milsap IMO. He isn't much shorter, he is quicker, and while giving up bulk his hands/arms will frustrate milsap all game. Paul has weight but I don't know he is a lot stronger. It seems the jazz are super slow with that lineup and our wings will own! Not to mention they thin their front court like this as all 3 bigs are foul prone. Especially favors. Get any one of them in foul trouble and their depth gets worse. 5 games max
@JohnAbney I bet you thought the same way when the Spurs took on memphis and guess what happened?
@jtshoopsblog i guess you think these jazz are the same as the as the memphis team that took OKC to 7 games also? bottom line, the jazz while "big" they are not THAT BIG! favors, 6'10"n jefferson 6'10", kanter 6'11", milsap 6'8". thats their BIG lineup of guys.
spurs bonner 6'10", diaw 6'8", splitter 6'11", blair 6'8" tim duncan 6'11". i would say the spurs have the bigs to play with the jazz, then throw in leonard at 6'7" and 7'3" wing span with hands bigger then shaq and i would say the spurs front court while underrated isnt really as under sized as made out to be.
also keep in mind this is NOT the same spurs team of last year. that his been discussed to no end around here but you are not from around here so we wouldnt expect you to know. your welcome to continue to attempt to troll but your likely barking up the wrong tree in these parts.
@jtshoopsblog @Emicris @JohnAbney why are you so mad? lol and yes we lost last season's first round, anything else you got? lol you know deep down your Jazz has next to no shot at winning this series. Now if you want to come and trash talk on this website you have about 1 more day to do it, cause after you get crushed tomorrow, I doubt you dare to show your face around here lol....
@jtshoopsblog Lmao your taking stock in Jordan and Silas? The guys who put together the worst team in the history of the nba? The same guys who where vocal in the fact that Diaw wanted nothing to do with being on their team from the start. Good call troll
@jtshoopsblog @Emicris @JohnAbney We only request that you make logical arguments. If you are going to criticize the team at least base your comments on reality. As Spurs fans that take the time to read team blogs, we come here to have discussions with people with intelligent opinions of the team. You are not a troll because you are insulting the team. You are a troll because you are incoherent, and simply wasting everyone's time.
@JohnAbney I do not need to watch EVERY single Spurs game to know that team plays so poor on the defensive end allowing their opponents to shoot nearly .460 against them. And Diaw is SOFT, just ask anybody who has watched him play in Charlotte. Paul Silas, Rich Cho and Michael Jordan certainly would not share your opinion of him.
@jtshoopsblog @JohnAbney No way in hell is Diaw soft. He's our best post defender (even better than Duncan and Tiago) because he doesn't let anybody get around him. Tiago is a huge factor offensively, I have no idea what made you think he wasnt... He gets offensive boards and he has a nice post game. The Tim is old thing isn't a real point because he picks up his slack in the playoffs and he's ahd a great regular season. The only valid point you made was that Blair is small, but we already knew that anyways.
@jtshoopsblog everything you said shows you do not watch the spurs so your talking out the back door. i have to go somewhere so i will only comment on one of your silly points then im out. "diaw is soft"????? maybe you should go look him up, diaw is consistently a top 10 defender in the league and plays multiple positions.
as for the rest i will leave that for others or when i get back.
@JohnAbney Let's take stock: bonner and diaw are soft, blair is slow and under sized, tim duncan is old, and tiago splitter is not a huge factor offensively. And btw, just because I offer a dissenting opinion, it does not mean that I am a troll. It just means that I am an independent thinked.
Not only the Jazz's size will hurt the Spurs down low, but the Spurs terrible defense will shoot them in the foot too. I see Utah rolling over the spurs the same way Memphis mauled them last season.
@jtshoopsblog You know who has a much worse defense than San Antonio? The Utah Jazz. You know who has a much worse offense than San Antonio? The Utah Jazz.
@jtshoopsblogDo you really think people are going to take what you say seriously? I just read your blog "2012 NBA Playoffs Previews and Predictions: Western Conference First Round" , and I couldn't stop laughing lol. I wasn't surprised what you wrote about the Spurs vs Jazz series just from your brainless, dazed, foolish comments on here, but you went as far to say the Mavericks will take the Thunder in 5 or 6 games, and the Lakers are going to have a cake walk with Denver. Just STOP! That was by far the WORST, I mean the most atrocious predictions/previews I've read so far, and not just about the Spurs but about pretty mutch every matchup. Pathetic.
@DerrickM25 TYVM for the plug, btw. Appreciate it. We shall see and when the Spurs lose in the first round and Duncan has this stupified look telling reporters that he didn't think the jazz were "mentally tough enough"to beat them, hopefully u will have the common decency to acknowledge that I TOLD U SO!!!!!!
hmmm...nahh. Your a joke, you don't even know what your talking about, seriously I'm not just saying that because your writing nonsense on here a SPURS fan website, but because your all around predictions of all the matchups. With all seriousness your an IDIOT. It's not even funny anymore, you're very unintelligent.
Truth is no one is expecting from this Spurs team that has been tagged as "Old" by neutral for many times during these last few years. And just like fine wine, they only get better and better whenever the critics throw the towel against them. That's what's amazing by these group players that Pop's have nurtured.
Now I'm sure they will be nervy moments from the guys considering after what happened last season against the Grizzlies. The key here is not to let any surprise outcome in the first as it will have a huge effect on the team. But I doubt it, as this season the team is filled with top quality players right to the very end on the bench so Pop's will have the luxury to bring back up ammunition in case needed.
With a healthy BIG 3 and strong bench, Spurs will rise this occasion.
GO SPURS GO!!!