San Antonio Versus Utah PreviewWestern Conference Finals
#3 San Antonio (58-24) vs. #5 Utah (51-31)
Season series: Tied, 2-2
Utah can win if…they outrebound San Antonio, Deron Williams decisively wins his matchup with Tony Parker and the Tim Duncan-Carlos Boozer matchup is not in favor of Duncan by a huge margin.
San Antonio will win because…the Spurs are built for this, having won three titles already during Duncan's career. Last year the Mavericks knocked them off in overtime of Game Seven and they have been on a mission since that day. Duncan's numbers are always good but his impact goes well beyond stats: he not only blocks shots, but he intimidates and alters shots; he not only scores on the block, but he causes the opponent's entire defense to collapse on him, freeing up his teammates to score.
Other things to consider: The Utah Jazz are a much better team this year than I expected them to be and I really respect how much Carlos Boozer has worked on his game; he is like a "mini-me" version of Duncan offensively, utilizing great moves, countermoves and footwork--but he does not have the defensive impact that Duncan does and he does not have the championship level experience that Duncan does. Look for the Spurs to win in five games, six at the most. Utah's best chance is to steal Game One; the Spurs only have a two day turnaround from their series with the Suns and, historically, Game One winners go on to win the series nearly 80 percent of the time. I think that the Spurs will win the series even if they stub their toes in Game One but I expect the Spurs to push past any fatigue that they are feeling and eventually head to Utah with a 2-0 lead. How long the series will last depends on how well the Jazz play on their homecourt.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:14 AM