Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spurs Capture West Title

West Conf. Finals (Game 5)-- Spurs 109, Jazz 84
(Spurs win series 4-1)

- This one was a done deal after the 1st quarter. As good as the Spurs looked offensively in the 1st 2 games of this series, they were even more devastatingly efficent in Game 5. In the 1st quarter the Spurs were literally unstoppable, got everything they wanted, executed perfectly, and made nearly everything they threw up. And Parker downright shredded the Jazz for some ridiculous finishes in the lane and when he wasn't finishing he got to the line (7/11 fts). The Spurs continued their assault until the final buzzer, and I don't believe the Jazz got closer than 15 points after the 1st.

- Parker led the way with 21 pts not just off his flying lay-ins, but with a few jumpers--Tony shot 7/13. I think we can officially call Parker a solid jumpshooter after this post-season; though I still sag off, go underneath pick/rolls on him. The Spurs got a nice effort from the whole team where Finley & Bowen hit jumpers, Barry & Elson did some nice things off the bench, and Horry was quietly effective on the defensive end, including a sequence in the 1st quarter where he forced 2 TOs & got a block in the span of a few possessions.

- Can't forget about the continued all-around play of Fab Oberto--Fab had 7 pts on 3/5 & 10 rebs (4 off). Mentioned in the series preview the Spurs needed better production from their center spot after the Spurs' centers had a low-impact in the Suns' series. Fab definitely delivered in this series with 10ppg, 7.8 rpg (2.8 off), & 70% shooting. Been a fan of Oberto for a few years and in this series he showed some of the underrated footwork & scoring ability he's shown on the biggest stages of FIBA play for awhile. He also did a solid job defending Boozer in the series, and he was a constant nuisance on the off. glass usually tipping out the ball to pile up extra possessions.

- Let's not forget that the Spurs defense was just as important to this Game 5 shellacing. They played with the vigor that said they didn't want a return trip to Salt Lake. Were contesting almost every shot, and held Utah to 38% from the floor.

- No one from Utah really got much going in this game, and they seemed like they conceded this game/series after the 1st quarter. Deron only managed 11 pts and seemed to be limited by a foot injury, and Booze had a rough day with 9 pts on 3/10. They really did not get enough support from the rest of the team, and this was definitely a recurring sorespot for the Jazz in this series.

- The one guy who will get some of the blame for underachieving is Memo Okur. It's not totally unwarranted, Memo had a really rough 2007 playoff season--he averaged 12 ppg & 8 rpg on 39% (31.6% 3pt.), compared to 17.6ppg on 46.2% (38% 3pt) for the reg. season. For the Spurs series, Memo had an even tougher time with 7.2 ppg & 4.6 rpg on 28.3% (31.3% 3pt), unacceptable for a borderline All-Star. Though he does need some props for his on-the-ball defense on Duncan. For a guy not known for his defense, he did a solid job on 2 of the best post players in the NBA (Yao & Tim) during these playoffs.

- The Jazz have to feel pretty good how the season turned out, don't think too many people expected them to end up in the Conf Finals. Also Utah has to be pleased with the emergence of Deron Williams into an elite-level PG, and maybe the best young PG in the league. Deron & Boozer have the potential to be a nasty 1-2 punch for years to come & could replicate the success of Stockton/Malone. The key for the Jazz brass is to find compliments to their 2 stars. Their main hole right now is at the 2-guard where they need a nice athlete in the 6-5/6-6 range who can hit the longball. Fisher is a solid vet, but he's better suited as a combo guard off-the-bench at this point in his career. Do have Ron Brewer who could be the answer there, but Sloan really didn't show him much daylight this year, and Ron ain't much of a shooter. They might have to decide to do something with Kirilenko. They are paying him a big chunk-o-change, and he seems to get lost in shuffle on the floor sometimes. Had a very inconsistent playoff season where he seemed to respond much better in an up-tempo game vs. the likes of the Warriors where he can roam around freely. Will see what they do in Salt Lake, though they don't need to make drastic changes, just some tweaks.

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