West Conf. Finals Preview (Spurs-Jazz)
Posting this for Jay Aych, who is having major Blogger problems:
Spurs (3) vs. Jazz (4):
-- Might not be the most palatable series from the casual fan standpoint or from David Stern & Co.'s perspective: two small market clubs who play more of a traditional brand of bball & very little in the way of marketable starpower. But from a NBA junkie's point-o-view this series has plenty of sizzle: Should be great battles at the PG & PF positions. Two PFs with some of the best footwork & touch in the post that we have in this league. Two young PGs who like to get into the lane. Both teams have an all-purpose defender at the SF who is capable of a major impact on the game just with their defense. Two of the better halfcourt offenses in the league facing off. And you have two of the best tacticians in the NBA on the bench.
-- Utah is the stronger reb. team, but don't have a huge advantage over the Spurs, nowhere near the advantage they had over the Warriors.
-- Spurs need to get better production from their center position. Oberto has been alright, but Elson has been a non-entity for the playoffs. Maybe most importantly, the Spurs need some decent combined rebound production from Elson/Oberto/Horry. Their low reb. production allowed the Suns to hang on the boards.
-- Curious about the matchups, could see a lot of cross-matching in the series. Anticipate seeing Pop throwing Bowen on Deron for significant minutes. Parker can matchup well with Fisher. Maybe even see Duncan on AK47. Tim could sag off in the lane vs. AK47 & be able to help at the rim easier than if he was assigned to Okur. You can put Bowen on Okur as well since Memo rarely uses his height advantage to post smaller defenders. Interested to see if any these scenarios play out.
-- From Utah's point-o-view: Utah's best def. alignment might be Fisher on Parker, AK on Manu & Deron on Bowen on the perimeter. Utah's propensity for physical defense could come in handy vs. the Spurs. Expect the Jazz bigs to use their fouls on Duncan, make him earn it at the line. Jarron Collins will probably see more minutes, maybe even minor minutes for Araujo to use fouls. And how much will Sloan double Duncan? Not really sure.
-- Though Pop doesn't like to go to a zone much, vs. the Jazz it's always wise to throw some zone looks their way. Zones can mess with a flex offense, and even though they shot the 3pt. well vs G.S., the Jazz were not very good for the first 82 games.
-- The Spurs have the edge on defense. And should be able to contain what the Jazz like to run on offense better than the Jazz can contain what the Spurs like to do. What's underrated about the Spurs' defense is they are capable of playing shutdown D without fouling much, they averaged the lowest fouls per game. While the Jazz are at the other end of the spectrum, they foul more than any team in the league. If the refs allow for a more physical West finals then that could work in Utah's favor.
Spurs in 6
M. Haubs' pick: Spurs in 6