Gameday 3-on-3: Spurs vs. Jazz
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.