The San Antonio Spurs are the top seed in the Western Conference for the second season in a row, but they hope for better results this time around.
A first round exit to Memphis last year seemed like it could have been the last chance for the aging Spurs until they finished with the best record in the West once again.
They must be wary of what happened last year when they go up against the up and coming Utah Jazz.
Spurs-Jazz Series Preview
The Spurs were one of the teams that could have easily been affected by the lockout-shortened season. They feature an older lineup that could have worn down as the season went on. To prevent this from happening Greg Popovich found a way to rest his core players, while still leading his team to the best record in the West.
Popovich took a lot of heat after the Spurs’ game against Portland on February 21st, when they lost 137-97. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were given the night off, and Manu Ginobli was out due to injury. Some were mad that Popovich would essentially give away a game like this, but it should be noted that the Spurs were on an eleven game win streak at the time. Those who disliked the decision must also realize that the Spurs went 27-6 the rest of the season, even with some key players getting games off in order to rest.
The key for San Antonio will be to not let up early on against Utah. They must get leads early and suppress any momentum that Utah may have. Simply keeping up their current pace should be good enough, as they have won ten straight, and 21 of their last 23. Staying healthy is the other key, but with the injuries already seen to Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert, anything can happen at any moment in any game.
The Jazz held off the Phoenix Suns to earn the eighth seed in the West. They hung around the .500 mark all year and finally pulled away with a five game win streak to finish the season.
Utah is led by Al Jefferson, who leads them in scoring (19.2) and rebounds (9.6). He will need to average a double-double if Utah wants to have any chance of taking this series deep. They also need consistent play from players like Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward, who, along with Jefferson and Paul Milsap, will have to continue to average double digit points. The Jazz must play nearly perfect basketball to repeat what the Grizzlies did last season.
Spurs-Jazz Series Prediction: Spurs in six
Spurs-Jazz Series Schedule
- Sunday 4/29: Jazz at Spurs
- Wednesday 5/2: Jazz at Spurs
- Saturday 5/5: Spurs at Jazz
- Monday 5/7: Spurs at Jazz
- *Wednesday 5/9: Jazz at Spurs
- *Friday 5/11: Spurs at Jazz
- *Sunday 5/13: Jazz at Spurs