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Game preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

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The undefeated Spurs will battle a Jazz team featuring some familiar faces.

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Date: 11/01/16, Time: 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Admit it, you miss George Hill and Boris Diaw. Sure, by the time they left you were not as big a fan of either as you were earlier in their Spurs' career. Yes, you know that their departures made the team better. But they were fan favorites for a reason, so of course you still miss them.

If it's any consolation, they probably miss San Antonio too, at least for now. The Jazz traded for them in the offseason with the hope of balancing out their roster and taking the next step, but things haven't panned out that way early. They've lost two out of three games, with their sole victory coming against the lowly Lakers.

The Spurs, meanwhile, are off to a 4-0 start after facing the Warriors and a few cupcakes. They are missing Danny Green but they are lucky enough to go against a Jazz team that is without Gordon Hayward and with a limited Derrick Favors twice in the next week. It's hard to ask for better circumstances.

At full strength, the Jazz figure to be a problem for the Spurs. As things stand now, San Antonio should beat Utah. But it won't be easy.

A test for Pau

Pau Gasol has done just fine so far, considering he's still getting to know his teammates. The numbers -- nine points and seven rebounds a game -- are not great, but they'll get better. What matters most in the regular season is figuring out which matchups are good for him and which aren't. That way, Pop can make adjustments when the postseason rolls around. In that sense, this game against the Jazz's big front line could tell us a lot.

The Spurs had a hard time containing Steven Adams and Enes Kanter during the last postseason. Utah presents similar problems. Rudy Gobert is über athletic and a terrific offensive rebounder. Pau will likely match up with him while Aldridge takes on Diaw. Derrick Favors is on a minutes restriction coming off the bench, but he'll also likely face off with Gasol.

Hopefully Pau will be able to hold his won and ease the concerns about his rebounding going forward. If he can't, expect Dewayne Dedmon to get some of his minutes on Tuesday.

Parker looks to bounce back

Tony Parker has had a dreadful start of the season. He's averaging five points and three assists a game on 26 percent shooting so far. To be fair, he's been hampered by a minor knee injury, which explains those numbers. Still, if he's going to play rotation minutes, the Spurs need him to do better. Going against a very solid defense like the Jazz's could make that difficult, but he does have a positive record when facing George Hill.

Regular Season Table
Player G W MP FG% 3P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Tony Parker 8 6 30.1 .487 .286 .842 2.1 5.4 0.5 0.0 1.4 1.4 16.5
George Hill 8 2 32.3 .405 .379 1.000 4.8 3.9 0.3 0.3 1.0 1.4 10.1

Granted, some of those matchup came a few years ago and Tony didn't do well the only time they met last season. But he did outplay Hill in 2015,  averaging 17 points and five assists. He also did well against the Jazz last season, averaging 15 points and five assists. Hopefully, going against Hill and a team against which he's typically productive snaps Parker out of his funk.

That needs to happen, because Patty Mills scorching hot streak is not going to last forever. The Spurs need Tony.

Can the Jazz contain Kawhi?

Gordon Hayward is out, which means the Jazz are missing their best wing defender. Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson and maybe Joe Ingles for a few minutes will be tasked with guarding Kawhi Leonard. Those three aren't terrible defenders -- Hood is long, Johnson and Ingles savvy -- but they are no match for the version of Kawhi we've seen in the first four games. The Spurs have a huge advantage there.

The Jazz are likely going to send plenty of help. We've already seen that happen over the past two games, but Kawhi has found ways to be productive anyway. Leonard used to be easier to shut down, but he keeps improving. With the tools he has now, not even a cold streak from outside has been able to stop him. Kawhi should have yet another huge game on Tuesday, solidifying his early MVP campaign.

vs

Utah Jazz logo for preview

San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 4-0)

Utah Jazz

(Record: 1-2)

November 1, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

George Hill

Kyle Anderson

SG

Rodney Hood

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Joe Johnson

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Boris Diaw

Pau Gasol

C

Rudy Gobert

Vegas line: Spurs by 10.

Game prediction: Spurs by 15.

For the Jazz  fans' perspective, visit SLC Dunk.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.