Jazz Must Dance To Their Own Tune

SAN ANTONIO – Gregg Popovich, coaching his 182nd playoff game with the Spurs, couldn’t have been more comfortable if he were lying on a raft sipping a cold drink. Ty Corbin, coaching in his first playoff game with the Jazz, was in water over his head.

Not that there weren’t a bevy of other reasons – Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Stephen Jackson – that pushed Utah under in Game 1, but the button-pushing Corbin didn’t help himself when he hit the one labeled “panic” when he changed up his plan of attack.

First, Corbin shifted his team’s look by putting Josh Howard into the starting lineup in place of DeMarre Carroll, who had part of the five-game winning streak that put the Jazz into the playoffs. Corbin said he was looking for playoff experience and reaching back to the days of 2006 and 2009 when Howard played in the postseason for Dallas against the Spurs. Howard didn’t score.

More importantly, Corbin did not use his big lineup of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors long enough to have any effect on the game. We’ll excuse Corbin for making a rookie mistake – he reacted instead of acting. He admitted to allowing Popovich and the Spurs to set the pace and the tone of the game by going small.

“I had to change it a little bit because they went small a couple times, and I didn’t feel good about our big lineup,” he said. “They ran out a little bit on us and then they spread the floor. This team is great at taking advantage of any mistakes.”

The problem is that by letting Popovich dictate strategy, Corbin took the Jazz out of one of their few advantages in the series – size on the front line.

Now, depending on the outcome of an MRI on the left wrist of Tiago Splitter, the Spurs lineup could lose another interior player for Game 2. If Splitter can’t play, it will mean more minutes for 6-foot-8 Boris Diaw,and also more minutes for 6-foot-7 DeJuan Blair.

In his playoff opener as a coach, Corbin blinked and it was costly. The odds are already stacked against Utah in the series. They’ll only get worse if the Jazz don’t play their game.


  1. choonzer says:

    Ah, hope springs eternal. 🙂 While I would love to see my Jazz pull this series out, that’s precisely the point of having a playoff series–to keep inferior teams from “accidentally” eliminating the real contenders. This Jazz team will hopefully take a game or two from the Spurs, but San Antonio looks as good as they ever have, and if their stars stay healthy, they’ll win it all again. They are too deep, too talented, and too experienced to fall to an upstart group like this year’s Jazz.

  2. tqseal says:

    Hold the speculation until we see what happens in Utah. Opposing fans outside of Utah don’t realize what the Jazz arena does to other teams during the playoffs.

  3. jan_279 says:

    If this is how the Jazz will look like for the rest of the series, I’m seeing a sweep.

  4. shuffybooboo says:

    the jazz will be fine. they will make this a series! utah has the loudest fans in the nba in the playoffs! GO JAZZ!!!!!!

  5. wayne says:

    In 1999 I was in the streets of San Antonio after their first championship win, blowing the horn and screaming out the window and have missed very few games since. This is the best team the Spurs have ever had and that’s saying a lot. In 1999 they finished the season on 32-4 run and won the playoffs 16 – 2. This year they have finished 21 – 2 while resting the veterans. They are no longer dependent only on the big three

  6. wanorris says:

    It’s like trying to have a coaching battle between someone leading an angry band of experienced viking raiders and someone else with a village of subsistence farmers along the English coast — coaching alone just isn’t going to make the difference. The Jazz played tough all game long, and they lost by 15.

    The Jazz are going to be able to use this as a teaching moment for their young players, and a way to identify ways they need to get better for a deeper run next year. But at the end of the day, they just don’t have the tools to win this series against the best Spurs team in years — especially with last year’s Memphis series fresh in their minds.

  7. the spurs are to deep and talented for young jazz