DAY THIRTY-SEVEN - Game five goes down tonight in San Antonio, the Jazz try to extend this series and their season and the Spurs try to close out and advance to the Finals for the fourth time in nine years.
Jazz at Spurs, 9:00 PM, ESPN
Thoughts: This series is over. The Spurs are going to the Finals. I'm kicking myself for touting this as being a closer, better, series than the previous Phoenix/San Antonio match up, and in some way I'm still hoping it will be, but I doubt it. Deron Williams (sprained ankle) and Derek Fisher (personal) will both be game time decisions tonight. I don't think either of them will miss tonight's game (at least I certainly hope not), but with Williams especially, any hindrance could cost the Jazz. Williams has been nothing short of spectacular, but he needs to be nothing less for the Jazz to win. If that stomach ailment or the sprained ankle slows him down at all, it could be the difference.
And even if Deron plays great, and Boozer plays great, no one else on the Jazz is offering the proper amount of support. I've always been big on Kirilenko and Okur, and while they may have simply been struggling in other series, the Spurs defense has a lot to do with their struggles, and Okur especially, I don't think will be able to get on track. Okur was the second leading scorer for the Jazz in the regular season, averaging 17 a game, but he's primarily a perimeter oriented player and those open looks just haven't been there for him in this series, thus the rest of his game has struggled.
Not only are Duncan and Parker doing a fine job of matching the output of Williams/Boozer, but the X factor of Manu Ginobili is what has largely made the difference in the series. Ginobili put in 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter in game four and helped the Spurs pull away late. Ginobili is that third big threat that Utah simply does not have right now. The Spurs are deeper, more talented, a better defensive team, and most important of all, they have more experience. The Spurs are 20-6 since Duncan has been with the Spurs and with a trip to the Finals on the line, I don't think San Antonio is going to let this opportunity slip. Spurs win.
* all times Eastern
Jordan's Playoff Picks so far:
43/72 - 60%
Cavaliers at Pistons