May 7, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) on the bench late during the second half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. The Spurs defeated the Jazz 87-81 to sweep Utah and win the series. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Playoffs 2012: San Antonio Sweeps Utah, Advance To Conference Semi-Finals

The Utah Jazz made a mad dash late in the 4th quarter but still fell short Monday night, 87-81. Manu Ginobili showed his first signs of life, scoring 17 points, sending the Spurs to the 2nd round for the first time since 2008. Balanced offense and depth prevailed in the end, sending the Jazz to the off-season in a first round loss, sweep style.

Snap Fast Reaction

Tony Parker did not play well at all, yet the Spurs still dominated most of the game. They led at one juncture by 21 points. Greg Popovich’s balanced offense strikes again as 5 players scored in double digits. Considering the low score, that is a feat within itself. Gary Neal and Manu Ginobili sparked the Spurs otherwise clunky offense off the bench, combining for 28 points. It was not pretty, but it got the job done.

I really like the direction the Jazz are going. But they were clearly outmatched in this series. Yet, that is no excuse to get blown out game after game. Game 4 was a chance to avoid getting swept at home. Until very late in the 4th, they seemed ready to go practice their jumpers in the off-season. Do give them credit for making a strong effort at the end. It just so happened while the Spurs were playing the last 5 guys on their bench though.

Spurs Star of The Game

Ginobili finally broke out of his slump on Monday. Previously he was o for life from beyond  the arc for the series. In the closing game of the series he went 3 for 6. What has been lost in all the Spurs’ victories has been the poor play of Manu. While they are a very deep and talented team, they will need him to play strong going into the 2nd round.

Jazz Star of The Game

My new favorite non-Laker player, Derrick Favors. The only good thing about being assigned covering this series, is watching this man become a beast. I don’t know how the people in New Jersey feel about losing Deron Williams this off-season. However, I would bet they feel horrible for trading away Favors last season. In his first start of the series, Favor scored 16 points and nabbed 10 boards. If you have already read any of my previous recaps of this series, you have seen my love for Favors grow. While he is not putting up 25-15, like a Bynum or Howard is expected, he is only 20 years old. He is far better offensively at this age then either of those to players were.

Silencing the Jazz

The Jazz are really old, but somehow at the same time really young. They play 5 guys under the age of 25, but their 2 best players are over 30. It’s going to be interesting to see what management does with Harris and Jefferson this off-season. Clearly my man crush on Favors has shown. I would like to see them build the team around him. I am also not as sold on Gordon Heyward as everyone else seems to be. He can’t create his own shot, he is a sup-par defender and rebounder, and his numbers plummeted in the postseason. This tells me that he is way worse than the poor man’s Keith Van Horn. I know I am spending a lot of time talking about the losing team here, but I think they have the potential to be something special going forward. Paul Millsap is only 27 and I truly believe in Favors. The Jazz have 2 guys who between then play,SF/PF and a PF/C. And legitimately play those positions(Not a “Hey let’s make KG our center because we have none and he is old” deal). Not many teams in the league can say that. Okay, I am done gushing about the Jazz. But next year when they are a 5 seed and Favors wins Most Improved Player from Sir Charles, remember where you heard it first.

3 Things We Learned About The Spurs This Series

  1. They are incredibly deep. While all season they played everyone with a torso on the bench. I don’t think anyone assumed Popovich would carry that strategy into the postseason. It’s also working. While Parker and Duncan are their main players at this point, you never know who is going to explode on you. Whether is was Danny Green, Kwahi Leonard, or Gary Neal. It seemed like everyone and their mother contributed to the Spurs.
  2. Danny Green is the 2nd choice of most popular people of that same name on Wikipedia. He has been cut by 2 teams in 2 years. One of them being the Spurs for crying out loud. It was not until they saw his production go up when Ginobili got hurt, that they even started to believe in him. It is a neat story and he is becoming a good role player for the Spurs. Think an “Eddie Jones” player-type. Not as strong mentally, but he is getting there.
  3. Greg Popovich is an evil genius. No coach with his accolades gets as little credit at Pop. He doesn’t even have a cool nickname. This man turned an old boring Spurs team into a relative entertaining TV show. People always say how he does not have to deal with drama, or selfish stars. Only a man as sly as Pop can make you forget about the Tony Parker incident. What Tony Park incident? That’s right….

Spurs Moving Forward

No more sweet talking the Jazz. San Antonio have made it to the 2nd round. Where they will either play Lob City or Memphis. I am sure people will say the Spurs are rooting for revenge against the Grizzlies. But let’s be honest, they match up far better with a young LA squad. Selfishly, I want to see a “bouncy” Tim Duncan go against Blake Griffin. I don’t know if they would actually guard each other, but I want to see it. I am one of the people who think Griffin is one of the most over-rated power forwards going. And Timmy is the man to make my case. If it is the Grizzlies, San Antonio is a different team then last time they met. Even though their 3 stars are older, 2 of them are playing younger. Tony Parker has emerged as their best player and one of the best in the league. Tim Duncan has entered some kind of “old man with a beardy face” hyperbolic chamber, and has looked like Duncan from 3 years ago. Not 5 years ago, but 3. With the progression of Parker, 3 years ago Duncan, might be good enough to get to the Western Conference Finals.

Game 5

There is no game 5. Instead I am going to plug the other writers at Sir Charles. Make sure you read all their recaps, previous works, and what not. Oh of course, make sure you follow them all on the Twitter machine. Our fearless, yet some how Canadian leader Chris Walder @WalderSports . Our other Canadian brethren, Jason Leung @JayLeung20 . The ever so popular with the ladies, John Y Armstrong  @JohnYJArmstrong . And we cannot forget our red headed stepchild, Mike Owens  . I am told they are all very talented writers. And of course…..

Joseph Nardone is a Writer/Blogger for Sir Charles In Charge. You can follow him on the twitter machine @JosephNardone

Tags: Derrick Favors NBA Playoffs 2012 San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan Tony Parker Utah Jazz

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