Last time out, Utah cruised to a win, putting the game away partway through the third quarter. The Jazz seemed to finally figure out how to play with a big lead, as they kept their foot on the gas pedal and didn’t let up. It was an encouraging sign.
This time around won’t be so easy. Gregg Popovich is one of the all time greats among NBA coaches (arguably the greatest ever), and won’t stand for his team mailing in another performance like that. This game will be much tougher, much closer, and probably more chippy. My over/under for technical fouls is 2.5, and I think I’m taking the over tonight.
When: 5:00 p.m. MT, Sunday Dec. 9
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: AT&T SportsNet, Fox Sports South West
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM
Dante Cunningham - (QUESTIONABLE, abdominal soreness)
What to watch for
Spurs revenge game
The Spurs got run off the court last game, just 5 short days ago. It’s a safe bet that Coach Pop will have his guys more prepared and locked in for this game. Expect more defensive intensity from San Antonio, and keep an eye out for quick hockey subs if Pop doesn’t like how his lineups are performing. He’ll bench all 5 players to send a message.
Donovan Mitchell bounce back game
Donovan scored just 6 points in Utah’s win over Houston on Thursday - his 2nd lowest scoring output of the season (he scored 4 points in just over 11 minutes against the Lakers, leaving the game with an injury). Watch for early catch-and-shoot looks to get Donovan going early, as Quin will try to get him rolling on offense.
Gobert eating freaking humans
Rudy was ejected 3 minutes into Utah’s last game, and San Antonio will now face his wrath and anger.
I’ll almost feel bad when he inevitably goes Gobzilla mode and levels the city of San Antonio with a 3 possession sequence of: SOUL CRUSHING SWAT, DOMINATING DUNK, BACK BREAKING BLOCK.
BONUS: Moneyball vs Midrange
Quin Snyder’s offensive schemes are heavily weighted toward “moneyball” shots. Shots at the rim, three pointers (particularly from the corner), and free throws. Utah’s team shot distribution is a thing of beauty. Behold!
So clean, so crisp. It really is beautiful. The percentages aren’t where they need to be - especially on three-pointers - but the shot distribution is near perfect.
For comparison, here is San Antonio’s shot chart:
In a word, YUCK.
If Utah can stop LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan from going big-head mode from the mid range, they should be fine. The Spurs lack the offensive talent and shooters to beat Utah from anywhere else on the court.
Prediction: Utah wins an old fashioned slug-fest, 101-96