Expect a whole lot of this in Utah. - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Spurs will have to play determined basketball if they are to steal a win from the Jazz in Utah.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz
Energy Solutions Arena
November 3, 2012 9:30pm Spurs Time
TV: ESPN - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
Wednesday night, the Spurs play the Jazz in Utah in what promises to be a very competitive game. The Jazz have only lost one game in Salt Lake City this season, and it was an extremely respectable one point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. And just like always with the Jazz, as good as they are at home, they are that bad when playing away. At home they are 8-1, while on the road they are 4-9.
This trend happens every year; it is no anomaly. I can understand slumping on the road and dropping a few games that should have been wins, but being consistently awful on the road and spectacular at home is crazy to me. If you're good enough to go 8-1 at home, you should at least have a .500 record on the road, right? So, what exactly goes on in Utah that gives this team such a decisive advantage?
It's their crazy crowd. They are ruthless. Interestingly, if you keep a group of people in an arena sober, they behave worse than an arena full of drunkards. It's counter-intuitive, but apparently true. Don't argue with me, it's just good science. The Utah crowd really lets the officials know how they feel; and the way they feel is a mixture of betrayed and furious.
Every time I watch a game played in Utah, the officials give the Jazz the vast majority of the 50/50 calls. It doesn't matter who the Jazz are playing either. It doesn't even matter if it's the David Stern's favorite teams; the Jazz get the calls in Utah even when playing the Heat, Knicks or Lakers!
The Jazz fans have it all figured out. As Spurs fans watching a game in the AT&T Center, we sit there and generally enjoy the game. It takes about three or four horrific calls in a row for the ‘boo's to start, and even then they are just boos. Spurs fans rarely say anything in the direction of the officials.
Spurs fans lucky enough to sit court-side are all very reserved and don't get too worked up during the game. There are only three fans that sit court-side that really show emotion. One is a soulless ginger that wears Matt Bonner's jersey. There's one older, balding guy who sits in the first row, right at half court. He never really gets angry, though. He more leads the charge when thing are going well. The last emotional court-sider looks like a cone head. I'm sure you've seen him. He's a big, bald, white guy and he really looks like a cone head. If you hadn't noticed him, you will now. You're welcome.
So, those are our rowdy fans. And they're awesome -- every single one of them. But Utah's entire fan-base is rowdy. And not Patty Mills happy-go-lucky rowdy; more Stephen Jackson dude-might-stab-you, clearly-unstable rowdy. Seriously, watch their fans. They are insane. And they do not wait for a horrific call to start booing and screaming obscenities at the officials. They show up and pounce. It doesn't even take a foul call. They'll boo anything and everything the officials do.
And so, I must admit, I do not blame the officials at all. The crowd confuses them. The crowd convinces them that the away team is getting every call, and the officials respond by giving Utah every 50/50 call. Don't believe me? Watch the game.
For the record, I have nothing against Utah or their Jazz team. In fact, I'm jealous. I wish our fans were as rowdy. Honestly, Utah's fans give the Jazz a huge advantage in every single home game; Spurs fans, while incredibly loyal, really only show up emotionally charged during the later rounds of the playoffs. That's what the better part of two decades of winning will do to a community. It just goes with the territory.
The Utah Jazz are coming off a rare road win against the Los Angeles Lakers. As I'm writing this, I just noticed that the Lakers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 9 wins, 13 losses. Isn't that nice? I think it's fantastic. This couldn't be happening to a more deserving franchise. As it turns out, Karma does exist. And it's currently residing in Eagle, Colorado.
The Jazz start Paul Milsap and Big Al Jefferson underneath. They are old-school like that. They surround the two bigs with sharpshooters Marvin Williams, Mo Williams and Randy Foye to round out their starting five. Off the bench, Utah relies on DeMarre Carrol, Derek Favors and Gordon Hayward for production.
I just took a look at Utah's home/away splits. I wanted to see if they do anything significantly better at home than they do on the road so I could give you something to look for during tonight's game. Guess which statistic jumps off the page? Free throws. At home, Utah attempts 27.9 free throws per game. On the road, Utah attempts 23.3 free throws per game. They shoot 4.6 more free throws at home than they do when playing on the road! It's too perfect. I rest my case.
To give you a benchmark, the Spurs shoot 20.7 free throws at home and 21.4 free throws on the road. Our home court advantage equates to -.7 free throws a game. Utah's home court assault on the officials equates to a whopping 4.6 free throws a game. That is incredible.
I expect this game be to a battle. It's going to be a physical game and the Spurs will have to play determined basketball if they are to emerge victorious. We know the officials are going to give Utah calls. The Spurs will have to keep their composure and play through everything that Utah throws at them. It will be a great test for the Spurs.
San Antonio will face the Portland Trailblazers Thursday night in what will be a rematch of the NBA's titans: Popovich vs. Stern, II. The Spurs beat the Rockets in overtime Monday night. They now will play an extremely tough Jazz team in Utah. In a SEGABABA, the Spurs will face the Blazers Thursday night on TNT. It is a game in which Popovich, under normal circumstances, would almost certainly choose to sit his stars.
And so, Pop vs. Stern, II. Good vs. Evil. Coach vs. Dictator. Right vs. Wrong. The barometer is dropping. This has the makings of a storm. Be prepared.
Battle of Positions
Point Guard: Tony vs Mo Williams
Advantage: Tony, (Mo is in serious trouble.)
Shooting Guard: Neal vs Foye
Advantage: Tie, (Neither can defend the other. Both will make shots.)
Small Forward: Green vs Marvin Williams
Advantage: Danny "Big" Green. (Expect Danny to get many open looks from distance.)
Power Forward: Tim vs Al Jefferson
Advantage: Tie. (This will be fantastic to watch. Every time the go at each other, The Last of the Mohicans theme song should blast from the speakers.)
Center: Blair vs Paul Milsap
Advantage: Milsap. (Blair is a poor man's Milsap.)
Additional Factors: Spurs Bench vs. Utah's Officials
Advantage: Utah. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Then go back and read what I wrote. Why'd you skip the content to get to this nonsense?)
Utah Jazz perspective can be found here: SLC Dunk
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Game Prediction: Spurs by 5. If the Spurs are to win, they will need to take a lead into the fourth. Coming back against Utah in the fourth is close to impossible. I think the Spurs take a 12 point lead into the final quarter. Utah then fights back to tie the game with four minutes remaining. At this point, the Spurs go on a little run and end up winning by 5. Vegas says Spurs win by 3.5
Game Previewers Prediction Records & how many points off per prediction
Joe deLarios 6-0 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1, 6)
Wes Thorne 6-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1, 28) *@MIA
Racm 1-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15)
Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)
Fred 1-0 (3)
CapHill 1-0 (13)
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.