Two veteran teams duking it out to see who is the best of those who probably need a rest. At least we don’t have to worry about getting “Pop’d” in the postseason.
MY PREDICTION: Spurs in 4
Spurs Key Players: (Opponent EFF Rating)
1. Tony Parker – (21.6) – Parker was highly impressive this season whenever Popovich turned him loose. That wasn’t as often as his fantasy owners would have liked though. Parker takes on offensive minded point guard Devin Harris, who struggled much of this season. Parker should be the main scoring option for a pretty balanced Spurs team. He is still pretty young and should have fresh legs from all the extra rest this season.
Projections: 28-32 FPPG 30-35 MPG
2. Tim Duncan – (22.8) – Duncan, much like Parker, turned in an impressive season’s worth of per36 and per48 stats. Now is the time to unleash him full time in the playoffs. Lets hope his body holds up. Duncan was ridiculous this season posting 30+ fantasy points in almost every game he played at least 30 minutes.
Projections: 30-34 FPPG 30-35 MPG
3. Manu Ginobili – (18.8) – Manu was another guy that got a lot of rest this year, both from minor injuries and his coach. Manu tends to be the Spurs go to guy in crunch time in the postseason, so expect a nice boost in numbers with a lot more close games than this team experienced rolling through the league during the regular season. The Jazz are young on the wings as they try to get their veteran defenders healthy, so that is a storyline to watch for Manu.
Projections: 22-28 FPPG 30-35 MPG
4. DeJaun Blair – (24.1) – Blair has the tough task of handling Al Jefferson on defense and on the boards. Blair showed flashes of brilliance this season, but was rarely consistent for long stretches. He sometimes loses minutes to Tiago Splittler, but if you need to look outside the Spurs big three, this is probably your next best option.
Projections: 18-22 FPPG 26-32 MPG
Jazz Key Players: (Opponent EFF Rating)
1. Al Jefferson – (25) – The one position the Jazz excelled at all year was center with Al Jefferson putting together his best season of his career. This also happens to be the position the Spurs stuggled to defend the most with undersized DeJaun Blair manning the position all season. I expect Blair will start on Big Al, but eventually they will be forced to use Duncan on him and risk him wearing down.
Projections: 28-32 FPPG 33-38 MPG
2. Paul Millsap – (19.2) – If he is indeed matched up with Duncan for most of the series, this is an imposing matchup for Millsap. However, with all the wing injuries, Millsap has played a lot more small forward lately giving him a huge advantage in size on many wing players. Check early in the series to see where Millsap is playing most and who is defending him.
Projections: 26-30 FPPG 37-43 MPG
3. Devin Harris – (23) – This is where things get dicely for the Jazz, as they have lacked a third option for much of the season, but Harris stepped up late and hopes to continue it into the playoffs. Tony Parker is nothing special on defense and if Harris can get the ball to his big guys and knock down open threes, he will be more than valuable in this series.
Projections: 18-26 FPPG 33-38 MPG
4. Gordon Hayward – (18.8) – Hayward has been streaky this year, but has really played well since being inserted into the starting lineup permanently. Hayward gets a pretty solid matchup with an aging Manu Ginobili for much of this series whom he should be able to shoot over. If he has his stroke working it could change this series for both the Jazz and his fantasy owners.
Projections: 21-25 FPPG 31-37 MPG