Western Conference Playoffs Preview: Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs

2012 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #1
Best of Seven Series, Format 2-2-1-1-1
#8 Utah Jazz vs #1 San Antonio Spurs
AT&T Center – San Antonio, Texas
Sunday, April 29, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Series Price: SA -2000 / UT +1200 (courtesy of bookmaker)
Game #1 Opening Line: San Antonio -10 1/2
Game #1 Current Line: San Antonio -10 1/2
Game #1 Opening Total: 207
Game #1 Current Total: 207
Game #1 Opening Money Line: Spurs -825 / Jazz +625
Game #1 Current Money Line: Spurs -900 / Jazz +650

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker lead the Spurs against the Utah Jazz in game #1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Sunday in San Antonio. The Spurs are 10.5 point favorites at home.

The 50-16 San Antonio Spurs, coached by Gregg Popovich tied with Chicago for the best record in the league. The Spurs went 21-2 down the stretch, including a 10 game winning streak to close out the regular season. The winning streak allowed the Spurs to overtake Oklahoma City for the #1 seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs were also the #1 seed last year but were upset by the #8 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Spurs are trying to win their first NBA title since 2007. Gregg Popovich are also trying to become the first coach and player to win championships together 13 years apart. Ironically, they won their first championship during the last lockout shortened season in 1999. 

The Spurs will open the playoffs against the 36-30 Utah Jazz, coached by Tyrone Corbin. Utah won 5 straight games to close out the regular season and vault into the last playoff spot in the West.

San Antonio won the season series against Utah 2-1. The Spurs won February 20 in Salt Lake City 106-102. the two teams played a home and home earlier this month. The Spurs won at home 114-104 April 8. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker didn’t even make the trip to Salt Lake City the next night and Utah won 91-84.

Utah is outscoring opponents 100-99 this season. The Jazz are #4 in scoring in the league. Utah is shooting 45.6% from the field and 32.3% from 3 point range. The Jazz are #9 in field goal percentage. Utah makes 75.4% of their free throws. The Jazz are 3rd in rebounding in the league averaging 44.2 a game with a rebounding margin of +3. Utah averages 21.8 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 8.3 steals, and 5.8 blocks a game. Jazz opponents are shooting 45.3% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Jazz are #8 in three point defense. Utah forces 14.7 turnovers a game.

Utah center Al Jefferson averages 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.7 blocks a game. He leads the Jazz in scoring, rebounds, and blocks. Forward Paul Milsap averages 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals a game to lead the team. He is probable with a groin injury. Guard Gordon Hayward averages 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists a game. Point guard  Devin Harris averages 11.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 5 assists to lead the team, and 1 steal a game. Josh Howard, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and Raja Bell also contribute to the scoring. Howard (knee) and Bell (knee) are both probable for game #1. Guards C.J. Miles and Earl Watson are both out for the season.

San Antonio is outscoring opponents 104-97 this season. The Spurs are #2 in scoring in the NBA. The Spurs are shooting 47.8% from the field and 39.3% from 3 point range. The Spurs are #1 in both categories. San Antonio makes 74.8% from the free throw line. The Spurs average 43 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +1.8. San Antonio averages 23.2 assists, 13.6 turnovers, 7.4 steals, and 4.4 blocks a game. Spur opponents are shooting 45.2% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. San Antonio forces 13.7 turnovers a game.

San Antonio point guard Tony Parker averages 18.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the Spurs in scoring and assists. Tim Duncan averages 15.4 points, 9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 blocks a game. He leads the Spurs in rebounds and blocks. Manu Ginobli averages 12.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists a game. Patrick Mills averages 10.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game. Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs in steals with 1.3 a game. Gary Neal, Stephen Jackson, Richard Jefferson, DuJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Daniel Green, and Leonard also average at least 7.9 points a game. Neal is questionable with a shoulder injury.

San Antonio is 42-20-4 ATS this season and the total is 39-26-1 this season. Utah is 34-31-1 ATS and the total is 32-32-2 this season. The favorite is 21-7-1 ATS in this series recently. The Spurs are 11-3-1 ATS vs Utah in San Antonio. The over is 11-4 in the last 15 in this series, and 14-3 in San Antonio. The Jazz are 4-0-1 ATS in road games against teams with winning home records, 3-0-1 as a road underdog, 6-1 on two days rest, 4-1 in conference quarterfinal games, 4-1-1 against teams with winning records, and in road games, 3-1-1 after failing to cover, 5-2-1 against Southwest division teams, and 3-9 as an underdog of 5-10.5 points. The Spurs are 5-0-1 ATS as a favorite of 5-10.5 points, 5-0 on 2 days rest, 7-1-1 as a home favorite of 5-10.5 points, 6-1-2 after allowing 100 points or more, 4-1-1 in Sunday games, 20-5-1 as a home favorite, 23-7-2 against Western Conference teams, 25-8-4 after a straight up win, 36-12-4 overall, 3-1-1 against Northwest teams, 18-6-2 at home against teams with losing road records, 19-7-2 against teams with winning records, 20-8-3 after scoring 100 points or more, 33-15-5 as a favorite, 0-5-1 in conference quarterfinal games, and 0-5-1 as a playoff favorite, including 0-4-1 as a favorite of 5-10.5 points.

San Antonio was upset last year by a dangerous #8 seed Memphis Grizzlies. However, Manu Ginobli did not play in that series due to injury. The Spurs will not lose two years in a row to an eight seed, but Utah is a deep and talented team that could make this a series. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if Utah somehow stole one of the first two games in San Antonio. The Spurs win the series in 6 games, but Utah keeps it close in game #1. Take the Jazz to cover the first game, and maybe even pull off the shocking upset.

Our NBA handicappers are crushing the sports books this season. Don’t miss out on any more winners from now until the last game of the Finals in June.


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