Spurs vs. Jazz: Just Another Wednesday in January

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Some say the beginning of the season through Christmas is the tough part of the season to get through. Football is in full swing, you’re throwing money away on fantasy football, etc. I’ve never felt that way. The beginning of the season is exciting because it’s your first look at the new faces on various teams and you get to see which rookies are good and who made an early season leap.

For me the tough part of the season is now. January is the calm before the storm, especially as a Spurs fan, writer, observer. It’s right before the Rodeo Road Trip, which takes to the All-Star Break and trade deadline. Then there’s the six week sprint to the end of the regular season.

Tonight’s matchup against the Utah Jazz is the perfect example of a shoulder shrug game. The Spurs are good, the Jazz are bad. The Spurs should win. If San Antonio doesn’t win, you might scratch your head over the loss but it won’t have a lasting impact.

Thanks to a mini-surge by the Sacramento Kings over the last week, the Jazz are officially the worst team in the Western Conference at 13-26. The funny thing about that awful record is they’ve actually been okay lately, going 6-4 in their last 10 games.

Derrick Favors, with his 13.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 18.4 player efficiency rating (PER) appears to have taken a small leap. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward has benefitted from Trey Burke being around as the primary playmaker, something Hayward struggled at doing at the beginning of the season.

Things could get troublesome if Tim Duncan sees early foul trouble. With Tiago Splitter out, Favors could feast on the other bigs. Still, Kawhi Leonard should be shadowing Hayward, so Favors is the only potential mismatch facing the Spurs.

If you’re worried about this being a trap game, don’t be. Aside from a loss to the Knicks a couple of weeks ago, the Spurs haven’t fallen victim to lesser opponents this season and this Jazz team isn’t one to exploit the absence of Splitter and Danny Green.

We haven’t learned yet whether Manu Ginobili is starting again, but either way expect a lot of Manu and Marco Belinelli on the court together, regardless. Tonight’s game from the AT&T Center tips off at 7 p.m. CT and hey, special treat, it’s on ESPN.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com