San Antonio Spurs 111, Utah Jazz 102: Meh
AT&T CENTER — In a game that felt like it really didn’t matter all that much, there were a fewÂ noticeableÂ things that happened. Tim Duncan sat out another fourth quarter, Indiana George got real aggressive and dunked on somebody and Richard Jefferson had his first 20-point game since November.
But according to Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, Tiago Splitter was the story of the Spurs’ 111-102 win over the Jazz.
Why do I say according to Coach Pop? Because when he was asked after the game about Jefferson’s first 20-point game in a while, he made sure to talk plenty about Splitter too.
“I thought [Jefferson] and Tiago were both really aggressive,” Coach Pop said. “Tiago just that blue collar, steel worker sort of attitude. It’s like he’s right out of a steel mill; been working in there all his life and he knows what it’s like to work.
For as much as Coach Pop likes to give the press folks a hard time, Pop’s a pretty media savvy guy. He knows that he can use it as a tool to send messages to his players. After today’s game, he tried to craft the message that Splitter was performing well.
Though Splitter may not play a lot in the playoffs this year, Pop is trying to let him know that he’s appreciated and keep his spirits up heading into next season.
With the win, the Spurs move closer to locking up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Spurs have already clinched home court in the Western Conference.
It was interesting after the game when Richard Jefferson was asked about the benefits of clinching home court in the West early and RJ specifically mentioned the Lakers, and how they have the ability to win in San Antonio, while the Spurs can win in Los Angeles.
We all like to talk about clinching the number one seed and how it’s nice for the Spurs to have home court advantage against the Lakers, but it’s not everyday you hear the players making the same connections. Basically, it was refreshing to hear someone else thinking ahead like the rest of us.
But before we get to that point, the Spurs and Lakers still have two rounds of playoffs to play. And the rules say they have to win both of those rounds in order to meet in the Western Conference Finals (Although side note: depending on how the next few days play out, the Spurs and Lakers could be scheduled to meet in the second round).
The Spurs don’t yet know who they will face in the first round of the playoffs, but their potential matchups were all in town getting a look at the silver and black. Portland, New Orleans and Memphis all had scouts at the game watching the Spurs in preparation for a possible first round matchup.