Ah, the Jazz. Remember the days when Utah used to be the Spurs' primary nemesis? They had Stockton, Hornacek and the evil, evil Karl Malone. The man tried to kill David Robinson! Can you imagine if that would have happened in today's NBA? He would have been suspended for 20 games probably. How many did get back then? Two? And the man traveled virtually every time he touched the ball. Especially on the perimeter. He would basically walk in place, switching pivot feet multiple times. Drove me crazy; I hated him more than any other NBA player and the fact that he never won a title makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Of course ever since Stockton and Malone left, the Spurs have dominated the matchup, winning something like 47 games in a row at one point. They're a different team now, with quite possibly the best front court in the entire NBA with Okur, Boozer and Kirilenko. Okur has great range for a big man (though he shoots too many ill-advised 3s) and manages to combine it with at least a decent midrange post-up game. Boozer, despite being a back-stabbing lowlife totally devoid of any redeeming qualities (ok, that may be a wee bit of an exaggeration), has a career FG% of 53% and can make basket good yay! And AK47 is a jack of all trades who makes me moist in my naughty places.
Now Deron Williams is stepping up and playing well, which I welcome whole-heartedly, if for no other reason it tempers the out-of-control praise for Chris Paul, who apparently is the best point guard since St. John the Baptist. (Jesus Christ played shooting guard. He actually invented the cross-over (which makes sense if you think about it), but no one ever talks about that, which is probably due to some vast conspiracy involving an albino monk, Whoopi Goldberg and an old piece of bacon never eaten by Elvis. Eventually the disciples stopped balling with Jesus. He was just too difficult to guard. You see, Jesus was a sweater, and he insisted on always being skins, which made a slippery son of a gun. And you can't really force the Son of God to be shirts, you know?)
Parker often has trouble with bigger PGs, and Williams has 33 pounds on The Wee Frenchman. And Parker may have trouble taking advantage of Deron on the offensive end due to Utah's large front line. Simply put, the Jazz seem to be set up well to beat the Spurs. They have the inside presences to slow Parker and the big PG to make him work on the other end. They have an on the ball defender (AK47) to pester The Sickness (who's "questionable" for tonight's game) and multiple defenders to throw at Duncan. According to KnickerBlogger.net, UTA is only the 22nd best defensive team in the league. They're eFG% allowed is actually 14th best, but they foul more than any other team in the NBA. The Spurs, however, don't take a lot of FTs; they're 24th in the NBA.
I'm curious to see this game play out and plan on focusing on Utah's interior defense. Can they stop Parker at the rim? Am I overestimating the interior defense of UTA's front line?
Contest standings are up to date. Today's lines:
San Antonio @ Utah: SA -1
Houston @ Phoenix: PHX -6
Comments, fake wagers, critiques of Matthew, Mark, Luke and/or John's jumpshot? Post away.