With Denver's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, the San Antonio Spurs, who finished with the West best record will open their first-round playoff series against the eight seeded Utah Jazz on Sunday at the AT&T Center.
Last year, San Antonio struggled towards the end of the regular season and Manu Ginobili's injury didn't help. The Spurs failed to advance into the second round falling into the hands of a then hot-streaking Memphis Grizzlies Team.
Now, with a relatively healthy and improved lineup, the Spurs seemed poised for a deep playoff-run and perhaps a legitimate shot at their fifth NBA title.
However, it is always a good reminder that the post season is all about matchups. Here are some thoughts about the Spurs-Jazz playoff series.
The Spurs might be the clear favorites to win this first round series with the Jazz, but they have to learn from the past, and make sure they use their home-court to their advantage.
Utah is a very physical team and plays tough on both ends of the floor, they have an imposing frontline that includes Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap that could cause matchup problems for San Antonio.
The Spurs won three out of four regular season against the Jazz this season. Utah’s only win in the series was 91-84 on April 9 in Salt Lake City, when coach Gregg Popovich chose to rest his Big Three, one night after beating the Jazz 114-104 the night before in San Antonio.
The Jazz felt disrespected because of the Spurs' decision to rest their stars in their final regular season meeting and should be extra motivated entering this playoff series.
DeJuan Blair has averaged 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds against the Jazz this season, those a numbers worth looking at; but Tiago Splitter might earn more minutes alongside Tim Duncan in this series to counter Utah's front court.
Utah is the fourth-highest scoring team in the NBA this season, averaging 99.7 points per game, San Antonio is second with 103.6 points per game.
The Spurs are the NBA’s top 3-point team at 39.5 percent, while the Jazz converts just 32.3 percent of their shots from behind the arc, third-worst in the league. .
Utah is the NBA’s third-best rebounding team, behind only Chicago and the L.A. Lakers. San Antonio is 10th in rebounding.
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili's ability to attack the rim and make plays for their teammates will be a huge factor for the Spurs.
San Antonio is 4th in the league in assists, while the Jazz ranks 11th.
Despite losing three out of four regular season games against the Spurs, the Jazz seem to matchup well with San Antonio.
Nonetheless, the Spurs' main advantage is their depth.
The addition of Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills makes the Spurs a tougher team to beat. Also with role players like Gary Neal, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Spitter and Blair fitting like a glove, it's hard to bet against the Spurs in this opening round playoff series.
4XK7V3ZPN7UD (Photo via ESPN-AP Photo)