The Spurs were like fish out of water in Game 3 of the Western Semifinals and like what usually happens to fish out of water, they too got fried. The Jazz went on to win 109-83 and effectively negated the 3-0 hole they were trying to avoid. In the history of the NBA, no team has ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the semifinals.
The keys to the win for me were:
- The Jazz did a Boozer on the Spurs by getting Duncan into early foul trouble and effectively getting him out of the offense. He got his 3rd foul in the 2nd quarter with still 5 minutes on the clock. With Duncan in foul trouble the Jazz did their best to mercilessly attack his offense knowing that he couldn’t risk getting another foul. The Spurs were able to handle playing without Duncan through the offense of Tony Parker, Defense of Horry and the Argentinian Connection between Ginobli and Oberto playing beautiful passing ball in the shaded area. However come the 3rd Quarter it seemed that the guys couldn’t get a regular shooting rhythm which allowed the Jazz to chip away at their lead.
- The missing 2nd quarter spurt. The Spurs usually keep it close then erect a double digit lead come the 2nd quarter. That failed to materialize in this game where the Jazz had effectively negated the pick and roll offense of the Spurs with Duncan out. The Jazz however remained consistent with their ending 3rd Quarter spurt and carried it over to the fourth. The only difference being this time was that they carried it till the end game.
- The Jazz’s pick and roll between Boozer and Williams was clicking because Boozer wasn’t plagued by early foul trouble. They were finally able to get their first lead of the series in the 3rd Quarter. Gordon Giricek also showed up for this game giving consistent jumpshots and 3’s whenever the Spurs left him open. Kirilenko however was another story, he still couldn’t get his groove on. Okur also had the same fate but he did well in guarding Duncan as he was able to block some of his shots, get him in foul touble and take him out of his shooting groove.
- A drought of 3’s. I don’t know if we call it a problem with depth perception on the ring, but the Spurs couldn’t even hit the rim with their 3 point shots. Nothing takes the confidence out of a 3 pt shooter than a 3 point airball that sends the crowd into hysterical laughter.
With about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter and the deficit straddling 20 pts, Greg Popovich threw in the towel and pulled out the Spurs starters. The Spurs bench players made it even worse as they allowed the lead to pile up a few more points with poor shooting and bad passing.11c2 [source]