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Utah Vs. San Antonio

Western Conference Finals
Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs

It’s the fourth seed Utah Jazz (51- 31) against the third seed San Antonio Spurs (58- 24) in a match-up that looks to be fairly even on paper, but not from an expert NBA pick handicapper. The Jazz have been unable to beat the Spurs in San Antonio and the team has never won a NBA Championship. San Antonio holds three titles.

The Spurs are a disciplined team that plays tough defense. They also have the NBA’s best half-court man in Tim Duncan and the team excels from downtown, hitting 37.4% of their threes this playoff season. Manu Ginobili has kicked it into high gear during the post-season.

The Jazz are solid under the rim, leading all playoff teams in offensive and defensive rebounding. They will need to be tough because San Antonio, with its excellent defense, will ensure that Utah pays for any wasted scoring opportunities. The bookmakers and sportsbook managers figure to open the NBA odds on the betting totals a hair lower than they may power rank out to be because of this fact. The Jazz have had a difficult time in the playoffs with ball control, leading all post-season clubs in turnover ratio.

At point guard, the Spurs have the advantage with Tony Parker (18.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.5 APG) offering sure hands, a keen eye and an amazingly accurate outside shot. It will be tough to guard Parker, whose jumper can devastate opponents. Jazz PG Deron Williams (16.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 9.3 APG) is inexperienced and under pressure it shows. Although fairly dependable in the regular season, he’s had trouble holding onto the ball recently. His shooting has been inconsistent.

Derek Fisher (10.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.3 APG) mans the shooting guard position for Utah. He is a potent defensive force and a sound point maker, shooting close to 46%. For San Antonio, Michael Finley (16.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG) can be effective but inconsistent.

The battle at small forward is a good one with Utah’s Andrei Kirllenko (8.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG) and San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen (6.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.4 APG) each providing a strong presence. Kirllenko was confident in the last playoff series but was also sloppy at times, giving the ball away too many times. The Spurs’ Bowen is one of the best intimidators in the NBA and possesses a fine instinct for “D” and the ball. From the corner, he’s able to hit three-pointers seemingly at will.

At power forward, the Jazz position Carlos Boozer (20.9 PPG, 11.7 RPG. 3.0 APG), who has the ability to hit from the perimeter. He’s good enough to draw double-teams more often than not. If he can cause the Spurs’ “D” to overcompensate, then Boozer could be a key to his team’s success.

Tim Duncan (20.0 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.4 APG) also habitually pulls double-teams. The Jazz will play him physically, drawing numerous fouls; although there’s the danger of attrition and a weakening of Utah’s bench, it may be the only way for them to control San Antonio.

Mehmet Okur (17.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.0 APG), Utah’s center, has been playing better under the basket, while also hitting from downtown. He proven to be a clutch player and continuing to improve his play will be essential against the Spurs. San Antonio Center Francisco Elson (5.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.8 APG) is an athletic player who will have to contend with some big bodies in this series. His rebounding has improved, and it will help the Spurs if he can continue to play well.

Off the bench, Utah has a squad of aggressive, tough guys, who can spell the starters while offering fine defense. Paul Millsap (6.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG) is a vicious rebounder who possesses well-honed defensive skills. For San Antonio, Manu Ginobili (16.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG) is playing like a starter recently, positing a fine perimeter shot and an aggressive temperament. In the past, the Jazz have been able to control him. Will they in this series?

These clubs match-up nicely, but the Spurs have a much better three-point game and they are a cohesive unit, with many of these guys having played together for numerous seasons. With both teams boasting of sound defenses, a lot of tough play around the rim and speed, this should be a very physical series. If you are betting on NBA basketball this series, it is hard to imagine that Spurs not taking this series rather easily and a wager on the Spurs to win the series should be in order.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction:

San Antonio Spurs in 5 Games

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