SAN ANTONIO – The Jazz plan was the bang away at the Spurs, beat them, bruise them, chop away and eventually bring them down the way a lumberjack does to a tree.
But you can’t hit what you can’t catch and so the Spurs ran and dashed and sprinted to a 106-91 win in Game 1 on Sunday. It’s just the latest step in the remarkable transformation of the Spurs from the NBA’s premier defensive team to the club that ranked second in the league in scoring this season.
“It began 2 ½ years ago out of necessity when we realized we couldn’t defend like that anymore and I realized that we were going to have to score more in order to win,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
All in all, the Spurs did a pretty solid job of combating what was supposed to be Utah’s big advantage on the backboards, managing to stay within 45-39 in rebounding.
But almost every time that Utah managed to hammer and maul and work away on the inside to chip the lead down to what appeared to be striking distance, the Spurs responded literally with a run. It was either Tony Parker running down the middle of the lane for another layup or Manu Ginobili running through traffic for a dunk or even 36-year-old Tim Duncan sprinting down the floor as a trailer on the fastbreak.
You can’t hit what you can’t catch.