So, Utah Jazz, your playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs has begun.
And, Utah Jazz, your playoff series is about to be over against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs, the No. 1 seed in the NBA's Western Conference, are up 3-0 on the Jazz after Saturday's 102-90 victory. Spurs guard Tony Parker had a game-high 27 points.
The potential closeout Game 4 is Monday in Salt Lake City again. No team down 3-0 has ever come back to win the series.
No first-round upset of the Spurs this time. Last year's loss to the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies is seared into the Spurs' memory.
If anything defines the Spurs under Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich, it's taking nothing for granted. No better example came right at the end of the first half.
With 3.4 seconds left, after Utah failed to run down the clock and score, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili ran through the Jazz and set up Matt Bonner in the corner for a three-pointer that sailed through the basket and gave the Spurs a 52-50 halftime lead. It was Bonner's only points of the half.
The Jazz had reason to be hopeful even after dropping the first two games in San Antonio. They had the seventh best home record in the NBA, fifth best in the West. They had won 13 of the last 15 home games to close out the regular season.
But in the third quarter, San Antonio pulled away. All 11 Spurs who had played had scored by that time. Entering the fourth quarter, San Antonio had outscored Utah 36-16 on points in the paint.
"We've got to be aggressive, get physical with these guys. We can't afford to let them go where they want to go," was Utah coach Ty Corbin's assessment of the defensive improvement needed in the final quarter.
But it didn't happen. Just one minute, 20 seconds into the fourth, Corbin called a timeout after a 6-0 Spurs' run gave San Antonio an 81-68 lead.
The Spurs will be on a mission to end the series Monday and join the Oklahoma City Thunder in taking a break after a sweep. Rest for the Big Three — Ginobili, Tony Parker,Tim Duncan— is a bonus … as if they need more help.