March 23, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) holds on to a rebound during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Game 3: San Antonio Spurs (2-0) @ Utah Jazz (0-2)
You know what's the worst thing about beating a team all game long, and then losing in overtime to a last second tip in? It counts as a single loss, despite 'winning' for the entire game. You know what's the best thing about getting destroyed by role players, and having to go on a 9-2 run at the end of the game to avoid being down by 40 points? It counts as a single loss, despite having it feel like it should count for 2 or 3.
The Jazz have two losses in this series. The Jazz are the underdog. The Jazz are the lower seed. And the Jazz are a bad road team (11-22 in the regular season). Plus, the Jazz still have a number of injuries to rotation guys. So . . . we are exactly where we expected to be -- down two games.
We're not down five. We're only down two games. While the games have not been going according to some expected plan, the end results were what we uniformly expected. We also uniformly expected the Jazz to play better, make smarter decisions, and present more of a challenge to the Spurs when the games shifted back home to Utah.
The next two games are at home. We're one of the best home teams, period. This season the Jazz went 25-8 at home. The Spurs, a team that won 50 games this year, went 28-5 at home. They won three more home games than us. They are an amazing home team, and they took care of business. Now the ball is in our court.
It's time to play the (home court) basketball!
Home Sweet Home:
On the road the Utah Jazz only manage 97.4 points per game, off of only 44.9 fg%. On the road the Jazz give up 102.2 points per game, while the other team shoots 46.8 fg%. Things are different at home, though. Words tell the story, but numbers paint the picture. Here's a good illustration of how much better the Jazz are at home.
|Home Games||Road Games|
It should never be understated: the Utah Jazz are a damn good home team. The Spurs are a great team, regardless if they are at home or on the road. But we're awful on the road. Thankfully we're not on the road anymore. We're home sweet home.
In Game 1 it was Tony Parker's dribble penetration that killed us. In Game 2 we over-helped in the paint, which opened up all their three point shooters (who shot uncharacteristically poor in game 1). I guess the domino effect will be to over help on the shooters, leaving the Spurs' cutters to be open. San Antonio plays a very in control, patient game on offense. They aren't going to rush into a bad situation. It's hard to stop them unless you stop their dribble penetration -- very few teams can.
We've been LUCKY that Manu Ginobili has had a sub-par series so far. In 22.0 mpg he is only averaging 5.5 ppg (31.3 fg%, 0/6 from three), while still adding 3.5 apg and 2.5 rpg. From our point of view those are sub-par numbers for Manu. That's fair to say because for his career he averages 27.3 mpg against the Jazz, and gives us 16.1 ppg (46.7 fg%, 36.6 3pt%), with 3.3 apg, and 3.8 rpg. Manu is dangerous with the ball in his hand, and also on offense moving without the ball. The Spurs could go for the knockout tonight by giving us the Manu we've so far been lucky to avoid this series.
The Spurs have been so disruptive this series that the Jazz can't even get simple things right. In Game 1 we couldn't get entry passes into our post players. In Game 2 we couldn't get the ball into our ball handler's hands after the bigs got a rebound. These are fundamental problems. The Jazz play better at home, and I hope they will play a more fundamentally sound game as well. It's one thing to try difficult things and fail against the Spurs. It's entirely another problem when you can't even get simple things done right.
The Jazz really need to get Al Jefferson cooking tonight. He's only hurting the Jazz with his bad defense, which he usually could trade off with reliable offense. He has not shown up on offense so far. He needs to tonight. It would also be great for the Jazz to get something from Paul Millsap, Devin Harris, and Josh Howard. Our veterans have not shown up at all this series. It would be nice if a few of them did.
If they are going to, it's going to start tonight at home.