Gameday 3-on-3: Spurs vs. Jazz

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Sweet jerseys of the recent past. (Photo credit: katiescrapbooklady on Flickr)

We’re (hopefully) back to our 3-on-3 gameday previews. Today, we’ve got Spencer Hall of ESPN TrueHoop Network blog Salt City Hoops to answer three questions about tonight’s game between the Spurs and Jazz, where the Spurs are looking to win their 11th game in a row.

1. What’s one matchup for fans to keep an eye on?

Spencer Hall, Salt City Hoops: Point guard. The Jazz are fresh off a shellacking by Houston’s Kyle Lowry and have seen opposing point guards lead their team in scoring in 11 of the 30 games.

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Whoever the Spurs put on Paul Millsap. DeJuan Blair will start on Millsap, but how many minutes is Pop going to play DeJuan? Does Matt Bonner play 30 minutes? Does Kawhi Leonard play the 4? If Millsap kills the Spurs on the boards, San Antonio could be in danger of losing.

Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Tim Duncan vs. His Minutes. Tim Duncan had a day off, but he played 41 minutes in the Spurs’ instant classic victory over the Clippers. Now the Spurs’ frontline is hobbled (Splitter) against Utah’s talented gang of bigs. Maybe that means tonight’s key match-up is Gregg Popovich vs. Tim Duncan’s minutes.

2. Who is the key player on the Utah Jazz this season?

Spencer Hall, Salt City Hoops: Earl Watson emerged as the heart of the team early in the season and was probably the key to the strong start. Some injuries are slowing him down now, meaning any contribution from starter Devin Harris is huge for the Jazz.

Also, Gordon Hayward is a key player. He wears #20 in honor of his idol Manu and tries to model his game that way. When Hayward is on, the Jazz are a completely different beast. He’s playing the most minutes on the team and also usually draws the opponent’s toughest defensive assignment, so as he goes, usually so does the team.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Admittedly, I’ve only watched a couple of Jazz games this season, so Spencer will have a more accurate answer than me. I’m going to say Paul Millsap, based solely on the numbers. He’s second on the team in PER (an offensive statistic) at 23.3, just .4 behind Al Jefferson. And according to Synergy Sports, he’s only giving up .78 points per possession defensively, much better than Jefferson’s .84 PPP.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: Paul Millsap. Chronically under-rated, Millsap is one of the most productive power forwards in the league this season. If there is a player who could get hot and ruin the Spurs’ winning streak, it’s Millsap.

3. There were trade rumors involving Tony Parker and the Jazz over the summer. Thoughts on those rumors right now?

Spencer Hall, Salt City Hoops: Can we make it happen right now? Can the Jazz go back in time and take Parker in the draft instead of Raul Lopez? Seriously though, Parker would be an upgrade of exponential proportion.

From a Spurs perspective, though, I’ve never understood why Parker’s name has been floated in trade rumors throughout the years. He’s been nothing short of spectacular and absolutely the best PG for these Spurs teams. It’s crazy to me that SA has ever shopped him around.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Whew, dodged a bullet there.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: On paper, I still like some of the possibilities that exist between the teams. But in reality, it’s difficult to imagine the Spurs doing anything with Parker that doesn’t include asking him to take more shots.

  • SAinSLC

    Can’t wait for the game tonight. I live in SLC and only get 1 or 2 chances a year to see our boys in action in person. Taking full advantage tonight w/my 5 year old son and will indoctrinate him in the ways of the Silver & Black for his first Spurs game!

  • Colin

    Anyone hear about Splitter’s status?  I imagine Ginobili will be at least 3-4 wks.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Here’s the latest official news from the team: http://www.nba.com/spurs/news/1202179_ginobili_splitter_injury_update

  • Colin

     Cool, thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spencer-Walker/1269354500 Spencer Walker

    I really like getting an outside perspective on the Parker trade rumors. I know that I’ve been interested if not in favor of moving Parker for quality down low, but I feel like his play this season has reminded me personally that he brings so much more to the team (and has continued to develop his game this year to show a much improved awareness in regards to passing to open shooters when he penetrates) than simply putting up points. That being said, I don’t believe that his ridiculous run of good form has made him “untradeable”, but there’s no real potential trade that I can fathom making that brings back the value that he brings to the team, especially if his increased assist numbers are a true part of his game now and not just a result of his extended run of good form.

    In another note, I will take Tiago back as soon as we can get him, but I am somewhat with intrigued about Kawhi playing the 4 in his absence. I really like what Kawhi showed down low defending Blake Griffin in Saturday’s game (I felt like he showed some good ability affecting shots and keeping Griffin out of the paint, he just didn’t get many opportunities to show he can do that consistently because of foul trouble) and I think that line-ups with Kawhi and Blair or Duncan with a combination of Parker, Neal, Green, and Jefferson could really tear apart opposing defenses if they move the ball well (which has been the standard for the team when playing well on that end throughout our streak). Defensively I feel like Pop has the ability to scheme to hide a lot of the weaknesses of playing so small, as he did against the Clippers, playing Bonner on Griffin and tilting the floor towards him whenever he caught the ball and then scrambling to cover when the ball is passed out of the post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spencer-Walker/1269354500 Spencer Walker

    Ginobili’s injury may not be as bad as initially feared (there’s also a great quote from Matt Bonner at the end of that article). I still imagine they will hold Ginobili out until after the all-star break just to play it safe, but the optimist in me wants to believe that he could return shortly after that.

  • Kakashihatake105

    Jazz have been much better than I expected them to be. I think that it will hurt them by being an 8th seed or barely missing the playoffs rather than being a lottery team and fixing their holes, which are not that big. They need a better PG and a better C but other than that they are a championship caliber bench and are playing with heart.

  • Kakashihatake105

    I am a huge Spurs fan and was just wondering if it is wrong for me to hope that they suck next season to get the next quality big man? I’d rather them trade some of their pieces for a high draft pick kind of like they did with George Hill to get Kawhi. This draft is deep and if the Spurs were to trade one of their pieces to get someone like Andre Drummond from UCONN or Anthony Davis from UK I think that they could go back to being serious contenders. As it is now, they are fringe contenders (can make a run but not likely). They will have a ton of cap space and so should be able to sign some FAs hopefully. What do you guys think about the future of the franchise in terms of being right up there with Miami and OKC?

  • Matt

    Will there be a Ghengis Grill Commercial debuting during tonight’s telecast?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spencer-Walker/1269354500 Spencer Walker

    Looking at Draft Express’ rankings of the Top 100 Prospects and skimming through some of the profiles of the big guys on the list, it looks like there is some depth in this draft class in terms of front court players. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there are many Anthony Davis type players who LOOK like they are ready to compete and contribute at the NBA level, but it seems to me that there are at the very least a number of options in terms of players worthy of a draft and stash for a year or two or picked up and brought in to play limited minutes (somewhere in the 8-15 minute range). I don’t think we have another piece that is as desirable as George Hill (great talent with a rookie contract [that was set to expire in the next year or two which was part of what made the deal even better for us]). The only package I could possibly conceive of right now that could bring back a lottery pick would be Blair and Anderson, but I think it would be extremely difficult to find a willing trade partner, and it certainly wouldn’t propel us to a pick with a very reasonable chance of getting Davis or Drummond.

    I also think that if you are referring to moving a core piece, the only one that we could possibly get a high percentage lottery pick for would be Parker, but then you invite the issue of mistreating/disrespecting Duncan who has dedicated his career to the franchise (not to mention the fact that you’re slapping Parker in the face in the midst of on of the best extended runs of his career) and, [Duncan] would thus deserve to be moved as well to have a chance to compete in the twilight of his career. The conventional wisdom suggests that Duncan will be on his way out in the next few years, and as such I think that the organization will do everything it can to send him out on top or at the very least remain competitive as long as he is in a Spurs uniform, meaning that barring a season or career ending injuries for both Duncan and Manu (who is in a similar situation), it’s pretty unlikely that they will be shaking things up or tanking any time in the near future.

  • louie

    spurs all the way 10 game wining streak going on 11 go spurs!!!

  • Deeds130

    Rhetorical question in my head: How the %#*& can anyone model his game after Manu Ginobili?!