Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a simple message for his players after they steamrolled the Utah Jazz 114-83 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Although the beating at the AT&T Center was the second-worst in franchise history for the Jazz, the Spurs said they are bracing to face a different Utah team when the series shifts back to Salt Lake City on Saturday night.
We expect to see the same Utah team we've seen in Utah before, guard Danny Green said Thursday after practice. They've beaten us there, so they're going to come out with a lot of energy and they're going to be very physical like they always are.
They're going to run. They're going to scrap, fight. They're a pretty good team and there's a reason why they made the playoffs. They going to continue to fight and try to get back in the series.
The Jazz have their work cut out for them against a Spurs team that has won 12 consecutive games and looked dominant so far in the playoffs. The Spurs, who rolled to a 106-91 win in Game 1, have outscored Utah 120-80 in the paint.
San Antonio took the regular-season series against the Jazz 3-1, with the loss coming in Salt Lake City. The Spurs won the first three games, but lost the fourth without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, who were given the night off by Popovich.
Duncan: Spurs must guard against a letdown
Despite winning the first two games of the series decisively, the Spurs say they have no illusions about what they'll face in Salt Lake City.
They are a team that we respect, said Ginobili, who scored only four points in Game 2. They play hard, they're going to be hurt and they're going to play at home, so there's a lot of things that are combined for expecting a real tough couple of games.
We have to stay humble. We just did our job, taking care of homecourt advantage. We'll see how it goes in Salt Lake City.
Duncan acknowledged after Game 2 that winning by such a large margin early in a series can be like the proverbial double-edged sword.
From game to game there's always danger of letdowns, Duncan said. I think we're a veteran squad and we understand that's a possibility. We're going to fight against that, but there's no promises either way.
I know Pop is really antsy about that, about us coming out and getting jumped on. But we understand that, so we're going to continue to prepare and come out and hopefully play well.
Parker has been outstanding in the first two games of the series, consistently getting to the basket with his serpentine moves or passing to wide-open teammates when he draws defenders in the paint.
Splitter probable for Saturday's game
The Spurs' leading scorer in the series, Parker finished with 28 points in Game 1 and 18 points in Game 2.
Parker said it will be critical for the Spurs to maintain their intensity and aggressiveness when they play the Jazz on their home floor.
You know they're going to play better at home, Parker said. We expect them to shoot the ball very well and play with a lot more energy, so we're going to have to match that and make sure we stay on top of our game because we don't want to give them any hope.
Parker said the Jazz's raucous fans make the EnergySolutions Arena, formerly the Delta Center, one of the top five most hostile environments in the NBA.
Suddenly there's no more calls and it's super physical, and you're like 'What happened?' Parker said. It's almost like no referees. It's great over there. I like the atmosphere. The fans, they're great over there, so it's going to be exciting.
Backup center Tiago Splitter, who missed Game 2 after suffering a bone bruise in his left wrist in the series opener, practiced Thursday.
I would say he's probable for the weekend, Popovich said.
Matt Bonner, who took a nasty spill under the basket while trying to take charge in Game 2, also will be available.
He's a little sore, a little banged up, but he'll be ready to go, Popovich said.
Spurs vs. Jazz playoff schedule
(Spurs lead Western Conference first-round series 2-0)
Game 1: Spurs 106, Jazz 91
Game 2: Spurs 114, Jazz 83
Game 3: At Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Game 4: At Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, May 7, time TBA
*Game 5: At San Antonio,Wednesday, May 9, time TBA
*Game 6: At Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday, May 11, time TBA
* Game 7: At San Antonio, Sunday, May 13, time TBA
* if necessary
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