Tonight we face off against the Utah Jazz and Gordon Hayward. Gordon is still a little ticked off at the horrible showing of his former collegiate team in the NCAA championship. He recently outdueled Kobe to help give us HCA through the Western Conference playoffs. Hopefully he doesn't help Chicago tonight.
The Spurs are coming off a dominating 3rd quarter win against a lottery team on Wednesday. In lieu of what had happened in the previous few weeks, I'll definitely take it, especially since we clinched the #1 seed for the Western Conference. All the wiggle room the team bought through hard work was needed for the late March meltdown. Finally, the Spurs are back on the winning track, barely keeping ahead of the streaking Chicago Bulls.
The Jazz are going the opposite direction. Ever since Jerry Sloan retired, they have won 6 out of their last 25 games and dropped out of the playoff race. I can only imagine the type of turmoil that would occur if Pop retired in the middle of the season.
Jerry Sloan was coaching in the NBA as long as I can remember. I remember my dad rooting for them in the 97 and 98 finals against the Bulls. He wanted to see Stockton and Sloan win their first championship, as did I since I wasn't that big a Michael Jordan fan. He would describe those Utah teams as playing basketball the "right way", and I couldn't disagree. When Stockton finally retired in 2003, no one thought he was on the tail end of his career. Most casual fans figured he could play till he was 50, because he didn't rely on quickness or athleticism to do the things he did.
Sloan was what every team wanted their coach to be. Despite the fact that he never won a championship, he only missed the playoffs once in 22 seasons. He took misfits and castoffs from other teams and made them into a team that would contend for the playoffs. With more talent, he probably could have won a championship or two, but he never complained and just worked harder. If I wasn't a Spurs fan, I would have been a Jazz fan, because of Jerry Sloan. It's a damn shame that he had to retire without winning a Coach of the Year award. It's a damn shame that he had to retire without winning a championship. It's a damn shame that he had to retire without being the last man standing as the confetti fell around him like snow, and his weather-beaten face finally cracking into a smile.
San Antonio Spurs vs Utah Jazz
Where: AT&T Center
When: April 9th, 2011 7:30 Spurs Time - Timezone Converter
Watch: NBA TV
By the Numbers
PG: Did you know that since Devin Harris declared the Nets to be a playoff team, a team with Devin Harris on it has gone 57-166. Ouch.
SG: Raja used to be a good defensive player. Emphasis on used to be. Manu is still awesome
SF: Normally I would give AK-47 the nod here, but it appears he isn't starting. RJ is definitely better than CJ Miles, but it's more of a who sucks less Spur
PF: Timmy is methodical and awesome. Millsap is high energy and awesome. Timmy gets the Spur because he is more awesome
C: Al Jefferson is a fantastic low-post scorer. He didn't mesh well with Sloan because of the flex system, but he's done better as of late.
Outside of AK-47 and Gordon "Utah Hearthrob" Hayward, this bench doesn't scare me at all. Fesenko is like Tiago without the skill.
Ty isn't nearly as good as Jerry Sloan, few coaches are. Unfortunately, Pop is as good as Sloan.
Spurs have HCA for the western conference locked up. Thus they can finally play looser.
Did the mojo really die? Didn't it just need SiMA to inject it with a healthy dose of mock severity?
Spurs win by 15 after a solid 2nd quarter. Duncan doesn't play in the 4th.
Key(s) to the Game
Key 1 - Box out. Utah is always a good offensive rebounding team. Getting those defensive rebounds has been the Spurs Achilles heel all year.
Key 2 - Rotational D. The Jazz have always been good at scoring off assists. We need to be disciplined with out rotations and keep contesting those long 2's.
Spurs Planet - Our old friend Wayne Vore is back.
Salt Lake City Dunk (SB Nation)
WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[streaming]
As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.
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