The Spurs begin a long road back-to-back in Utah, where no NBA team ever wants to play. It’s loud, the fans are rowdy, the air is thin, and there is lack of significant entertainment opportunities for your average NBA player. Of course, the Spurs are not your average NBA team, but the other factors are still in play.
1. Song of the Game: Harry Connick, Jr., “The Way You Look Tonight”
As is my custom, I roll out some of my favorite jazz tunes whenever Utah rolls around. Now, I know that Harry is not popular amongst the hardcore jazz set, but for me, he was my gateway drug into some other forms of jazz I had not previously listened to. It’s not the best jazz you’ll ever hear, but it’s always warm, heartfelt, and fun.
2. Who Has to Be Stopped: Mo Williams
Of course, Big Al is always a consideration here. I love Al’s game and have been an admirer from afar for many years, since his Celtic days. Al can score anyway, anywhere, on anyone. But let’s be honest, Mo Williams has owned the Spurs the past few times he has played them, playoffs last year notwithstanding. He scored 29 with 9 assists and 2 steals on November 3rd in San Antonio. And we all remember his 3-point barrage during the last regular season game against the Clips (which, I think, was the last loss before The Streak started). Mo can score and his move to point in Utah makes him the head of the snake.
3. Who Has to Go Off: Spurs Bigs
Analysis of a game against the Jazz is easy. Your big guys have to minimize the impact of their big guys on the glass. It’s really that simple. The Jefferson-Millsap-Favors-Kantner (along with Marvin Williams in the small lineup) has size, tenacity, athleticism (except for Al) and they are not afraid of fouling. Often. And hard.
4. And the Crystal Ball Says….: Spurs, 91; Jazz, 101
Because all good things must end and this looks like a place where the 5-game win streak comes to a halt. I think Mo will be hard for Tony / Danny to contain and our lack of a true small forward (Kawhi, Stephen? You guys healthy yet? Please?) to match their big lineups hurt us. The Jazz will win the rebounding battle; it’s just a question of how much.
5. I’m Wrong If….: Spurs Shoot over 50%
For the Spurs to win, they have to be hot. Like scorching hot, especially on 3s, and negate the rebounding advantage the Jazz have. Unfortunately, the Jazz – like another team we all like – don’t like to give up open 3s, which makes this a lot tougher task. Excited about this game, but I deeply respect the Jazz and I have have some tempered expectations about the outcome.