Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz

San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz

EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
February 20th, 8 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: WOAI 1200 AM

Let’s keep…it…moving, Spurs fans! At the time I began this preview, our Spurs had just squeaked out another unnecessarily close win against Toronto for their 9th consecutive victory. Immediately following the telecast, I and a few other LP having basketball junkies - who know who they are - watched the Houston Rockets edge the Thunder by a single point at the Toyota Center, bringing our guys to within 1.5 games of the Western Conference's top seed. San Antonio then proceeded to luck their way out of LA after the Clippers gave Gary Neal the game and he took it. Tonight, the Spurs bus rolls into Salt Lake City for the 2nd match up of the season against a Utah Jazz team that started off strong, but has since hovered on the playoff bubble.

Maybe I have a hard time letting these things go. Denial ain't just a river in Africa. It still bugs me that Jerry Sloan doesn't coach this team anymore. I am a huge fan. You might say he is one of my basketball heroes. If memory serves, I believe in the evening's Loser Thread immediately following his dismissal from the Jazz, I'm pretty sure I ranted on it. Since then, I have probably re-typed different variations of the same things on more than one occasion. I'm prone to redundancy. It's a flaw, I'm working on it.

I do not claim to be a great evaluator of what is good sports coaching, and what is not. Now, I'll give Coach Ty Corbin his due for going out there every night with the best squad he has to work with. We're all well aware that he doesn't have Stockton and Malone Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer to work with, either. After jumping out to a 10 – 5 start, which isn’t super-duper by any stretch, but also not bad, Coach Sloan would not have let his Jazz mail in their next 13 games - pun fully intended. He'd have seen darn skippy to it that they keep that pace up – or else he’d beat their butts in practice and take their lunch money. I’d take the old fart in my foxhole any day of the week. I am sure most of the PTR faithful are also aware that the guy was no slouch as a player, either. His 1970s Bulls teams with "Stormin" Norm Van Lier, Chet "The Jet" Walker, himself, and Bob Love (all pictured below) would give the current Chicago starting 5, minus Derrick Rose, of course, a run for it's money. Until Michael Jordan received the honor, Coach Sloan was the only Bull to have his number retired.

http://chicitysportsfan.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/sloan.jpg

Now, shut up about Jerry Sloan already, and talk about the team we get to watch tonight?! How about it. Utah’s numbers pretty well reflect their record – about middle of the pack, but could always strive for better. They currently rank 12th in points per game, at just under 96, 13th in rebounding, at about 42 per contest, 14th in assists, at nearly 21 per, and 22nd in points allowed, at just over 97 a game. On the flip side, the Spurs are around 7th in points per game at 98, and 18th in rebounding at 42 per. This is an area where the game could be won or lost. Millsap, Jefferson, and Favors will make Duncan and Co. pay dearly if they don’t crash the boards. Millsap v. Blair should be interesting. On the offensive side, Utah only shoots 29.7% from 3 point range, to the Spurs’ 38.3%. And as usual, the Jazz’ 74% from the free throw stripe is better than the Spurs 72.5% (25th in the NBA this week). But I'll give credit when it's due. I was very impressed with the Spurs' free throw shooting Wednesday night, at Toronto. They only missed two all night - out of 25. That has to be one of their best showings of the season. Hoopdata is, once again, my best friend. While you're on TrueHoop, check out Utah's Salt City Hoops page. It's a gooden! Let's roll.

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Kawhi Leonard
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Tim Duncan
C: DeJuan Blair

Key Bench Players
Gary Neal
Danny Green
Matt Bonner

Lineups

Starters
PG: Devin Harris
SG: Raja Bell
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Jefferson

Key Bench Players
Josh Howard
Earl Watson
Derrick Favors

NBA Stats Cube Lineup Comparison Here. Jazz perspective can be found here: SLC Dunk.

Game Prediction: Spurs win, in another squeaker. Traditionally, Utah is a heckish place to play on the road, and the Jazz seem to be holding down the fort at home.

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.

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