SI.com's Ian Thomsen interviewed an NBA advance scout to break down the Spurs-Jazz matchup.
"San Antonio is the more experienced team with the most successful history, but they're going to have a hard time in this series. These are two really disciplined teams going at each other. Both Utah and San Antonio are high-efficiency teams that don't beat themselves that much -- which is the opposite of the opponents they've faced in the playoffs thus far when you consider the Jazz beating the Warriors and the Spurs beating the Suns and Nuggets.
"The Jazz are a strong rebounding team and probably the physically tougher team, while the Spurs are tougher mentally. The Spurs are able to execute game plans better than most teams. It has to do with the caliber of their players, their veteran experience and their commitment. It always seems like they get a lucky bounce, a loose ball or a call to go their way -- is it luck or are they so good that they get so many more of those opportunities than anybody else? I think it's the latter.
"A great matchup is going to be Carlos Boozer and Tim Duncan going against each other.
"Duncan seems to have totally come back from the foot injury he had last year. He has a bounce in his step again. I also wonder if he felt like he had something to prove after the incident with Joey Crawford at the end of the season. It tainted him slightly, that a guy with his quiet demeanor was associated with something like that. The result is that he has dominated both series thus far. Most people had put him out to pasture, or had decided that defending against Parker and/or Ginobili was the priority. Maybe that has liberated him: Imagine what an incredible team you have if Tim Duncan is your third option.
"Boozer is giving up at least two inches on Duncan; I know I always label Boozer as an undersized guy. He may get a couple of shots blocked here and there, but his size never seems to be a major hindrance. He knows how to play, he has strength in that wide body, he's able to create space with his seals. You would think on paper he would be at a disadvantage, but how many teams have been able to stop Boozer this year? He's had a great year and he's undersized almost every night.
"Boozer has that low center of gravity, with strong legs, and he throws his butt into people and moves them. Duncan is of course a much bigger guy to move. One thing you can say about Boozer is that he always plays hard, and the constant pounding and throwing his body could wear on Duncan a little bit. But Duncan finds a way to respond to things like that.
"The other big matchup is going to be Tony Parker vs. Deron Williams. Each is going to cause problems. Deron has become a bigtime player, a guy who will be on All-Star teams very soon because that's what he's become. His size physically can bother Tony, but at the other end I haven't seen anybody who's been able to stop Parker from getting into the paint.
"Whoever wins the matchups of Duncan-Boozer and Parker-Williams is going to have the better chance in this series.
"It's also going to be interesting to see Fabricio Oberto or Francisco Elson being pulled out to the perimeter to guard Mehmet Okur because he scores so much from the three-point line. That could be a tough adjustment for San Antonio because they usually have such a good defensive rotation inside with their two big guys interchanging. Now one of them is going to be lifted out to the perimeter defensively.
"A big key for Utah will be continuing to win home games. San Antonio has seemed a little more vulnerable at home. The dream scenario for Utah is that Deron Williams finds a way to dominate Parker; Boozer and Duncan are a wash who offset each other, the Jazz find a way to hold down Manu Ginobili; and then Okur goes off. He's capable of putting up a ton of points on any night, and I don't know how Elson or Oberto can cover him out there given San Antonio's emphasis on defensive help.
"Could Andrei Kirilenko cover Ginobili? That would be interesting because Kirilenko has been getting back to his old self in these playoffs, and with his length he could cause problems for Ginobili. Though to be fair, Kirilenko is a better shotblocker off the ball. But that could be an interesting matchup.
"Would the Spurs be willing to put Bruce Bowen on Deron Williams? Bowen covered Steve Nash and Allen Iverson in previous series. I would think when Derek Fisher comes in to play with Williams, the Spurs will put Parker on Fisher and you'll see Bowen shift over to Williams then.
"The one thing the Spurs do is they seem to win the last two minutes of every quarter, and when they don't, that's when they're in trouble. Let's say there are 48 seconds to go in the quarter: The Spurs like to run `21,' which is basically a two-for-one for them. Gregg Popovich wants to get two possessions in that time, so he'll come down and run a double drag and almost always get a three-point attempt out of it. They routinely put up two threes at the end of the quarter, and they usually kick butt in those moments. The overall strategy for San Antonio is to do a lot of small things every game. They'll run zone one time per game after a timeout to throw you off, but they won't run it enough so that you have to work on your zone offense and feel comfortable in attacking it. They try to beat you with 15 different tactics, and they're well prepared at them while you aren't.
"But in this series San Antonio will play a disciplined, organized Utah team that doesn't have a lot of letdowns. That's why this is going to be so interesting.''
Scout's Pick: "Utah should be good enough to win at home and push this thing to six or seven games. I love Jerry Sloan and would love to see Utah win, but I have too much respect for the Spurs to pick against them.''