Utah Jazz (1-8) vs San Antonio Spurs (8-1)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
TV : Root Sports
Projected Starting Lineups
PG- John Lucas III
SG- Gordon Hayward
SF- Richard Jefferson
PF- Derrick Favors
C- Enes Kanter
San Antonio Spurs
PG- Tony Parker
SG- Danny Green
SF- Kawhi Leonard
PF- Tim Duncan
C- Tiago Splitter
The Utah Jazz come into tonight with a little bit of confidence after finally cracking the win column Wednesday night, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 111-105. The victory was the most complete team game we have seen from the Jazz this season so far. The Jazz got a lift from multiple players including Richard Jefferson (22 points), Gordon Hayward (27 points), Enes Kanter (21 points), Marvin Williams (12 points, 9 rebounds, 110% emotion), and newly acquired point guard Diante Garrett (7 points, 5 assists).
One key note to watch tonight, against the Pelicans, Coach Corbin made the decision to sit John Lucas III for the entire 2nd half and play Garrett instead. As most Jazz fans would agree, it was an extremely smart move by Corbin and resulted in much better offensive flow. In my projected starting lineups listed above, I have Lucas listed as the starter because knowing Corbin, he most likely won’t give the reins to Garrett after one game. However, if Garrett plays well again tonight, the 2 point guards roles could change quickly.
The San Antonio Spurs enter tonight after winning at home against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, 92-79. With that win, the Spurs have now won 6 games in a row. The Spurs had a very well rounded scoring output, as 6 players scored in double figures, led by Tony Parker with 16. The Spurs got off to a quick start and built a big lead heading into halftime. However, the 2nd half scoring didn’t come as easily. The Spurs scored 18 points in the 3rd quarter and 22 in the 4th. Luckily for them, the Wizards struggled to score in the 2nd half as well.
The Spurs come into tonight ranked 2nd in the NBA in points allowed, giving up only 90.1 points per game. They also rank 6th in the NBA in assists at 24.3 per game, 12th in the NBA in rebounding at 43.7 per game, and 15th in scoring at 99.4 points per game. The Spurs have been led so far this season by Tony Parker, averaging 18.1 points and 6.2 assists per game, while shooting 55% from the field.
The Jazz brought up there team scoring average after their last game, but still rank last in the league, scoring only 89.6 points per game. The Jazz also rank 19th in rebounds at 42.3 per game, 19th in points allowed at 101.1 per game, and 28th in assists at 17.8 per game. The Jazz are led by Gordon Hayward, averaging 20.3 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting 46% from the field. It should be noted that an average of 20/6/5/1.3/46% has only been done 35 times by 8 players in NBA History. If Hayward can keep it up, he would be joining some elite company.
Key Matchup : Derrick Favors vs Tim Duncan
Favors is coming off one of his better all-around games of the season against the Pelicans. Favors had 12 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 blocks, and 2 assists and shot 5-7 from the floor for 71.4%. He had a very tough matchup against an up and coming All-Star in Anthony Davis. Favors now goes from defending one of the best young big men in the NBA, to having to defend one of the best big men in NBA history in Tim Duncan.
As great as Duncan is, he is aging and has seen his minutes decrease this season. Duncan is only averaging 27.4 minutes per game and played just 26 minutes in their last game where he also only scored 2 points. With the decreasing minutes, Duncan has seen all his stats drop well below his career averages. So far this season, Duncan has averaged 11.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game and also shooting 38.6% from the field, well below his career average of 50.6%.
Favors has averaged about 6 minutes more per game than Duncan, but his numbers are not much higher than what Duncan has done in limited minutes. Favors is averaging 13 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.7% from the field. Favors is obviously younger and more athletic than Duncan is right now, but offensively, Duncan is still a much better option than Favors.
The Jazz are a much better team when they are running the floor. Especially when their big men run the floor. If Favors wants to win his matchup against Duncan, he will need to try and beat him down the floor for some easy buckets. Favors has matched up with Duncan before, but Favors came off the bench and didn’t see him for an extended amount of time. This is really Favors first opportunity to show what he can do matched up against Duncan. We know Gordon Hayward will get his points, but the Jazz need to have Favors take advantage of his quickness against Duncan to try and give themselves a chance against the Spurs.
Coach Corbin seems to be trying to tighten his rotations every game. Wednesday night was no different 9 players seen the court, and only 8 seen the court in the 2nd half. The Jazz bench came in and scored 28 points. The scoring wasn’t necessarily that impressive, but what was impressive was the defense that was played by the 2nd unit and also the emotion that they brought to the floor. Most noticeably, Marvin Williams looked as fired up as a college basketball player in the NCAA Tournament. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This team could use a little emotion and fight from their bench. Marvin looks to be feeling a lot better and doesn’t seem to be worried about his achilles. If he brings the same production and emotion to the court every night like he did Wednesday, that would be a huge help to this struggling bench.
Also, Jody Genessey of the Deseret News posted a tweet yesterday regarding Brandon Rush saying that Rush was draining 3 pointers before practice. The Jazz’s bench could really use his range if he can get back to form.
The Spurs’ bench has a name that is very familiar in Manu Ginobili. Ginobili is part of the Spurs bench that has shooters at every position. The main bench players for the Spurs are shooting 46% from the field. Ginobili, along with Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw, and Jeff Ayres have also combined for 38.5 points per game, roughly 8 points per game more than the Jazz bench. One key thing to keep an eye on, the Spurs bench is struggling to shoot behind the 3 point line. Patty Mills, however, is not struggling, shooting over 50% from 3. The Spurs bench will be trying to get the ball inside to try and get easy baskets.
The Jazz played at Boston last week when both teams were winless. After the Celtics won that game, they went on to win 4 in a row. It only takes one win to give you that confidence that you need going forward. However, the Celtics didn’t play the Spurs in their next game. I believe though, that the Jazz having won their last game will have a lot of confidence going into tonight and will give them a very good chance to win. Once again, the key to the Jazz having a chance is going to be the point guard play. Whether it is Garrett or Lucas starting for the Jazz, Parker is still a much better point guard than either of them. I see another close game tonight. The Jazz have confidence going into tonight and if Gordon Hayward plays 42 or more minutes like he did on Wednesday night, that is going to give them a much better chance to win. I’m calling an upset and Jazz will be on a 2 game winning streak!
Jazz 102, Spurs 100