As Tyrone Corbin eloquently said in Friday morning’s practice, every matchup will be a big one for the Utah Jazz when they travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs on Sunday morning.
A look deeper into things, however, reveals the prospective battle between Devin Harris and Tony Parker, who has been one of the best point guards in the league this season.
It won’t be the first time the two have met in a playoff series. And the last matchup, in the 2006 Western Conference Finals when Harris was a Dallas Maverick, was kind to the Jazz floor leader, who outplayed a younger Parker.
If the Jazz are to make this series a competitive one, Harris has to draw even. That much, he knows. He also knows that it will be more difficult this time around.
“Everything runs through Tony, he’s so much a part of the offense,” Harris said. “He has the ball so much of the time that it’s hard to defend.”
Six years ago, Harris got the best of Parker. He went at him, was aggressive offensively. He made Parker work on defense, and over the course of the series, Parker wore down just a bit.
At the same time, Harris knows that the Parker he will see Sunday is a different player. A better player. A better shooter and a more efficient point guard as well. Also, in 2006, Tim Duncan was still the focal point, with Parker being the third option behind Manu Ginobli. This time around, Parker is the top option, and is on a short list of MVP candidates.
“The circumstance is different,” Harris said. “He has more range on his jumper now. He is hitting that 18-footer with more regularity. It opens up his entire game and makes him more difficult to stay with defensively.”
Down and right back
The Jazz, because of the spaced-out schedule between Games 1 and 2, will play on Sunday and fly back immediately to Salt Lake City. They will then practice on Monday and Tuesday before flying back down to San Antonio.
Corbin said the extra two days his team will have to sleep in their own beds will be a positive. They didn’t want to spend the time in San Antonio, especially with a charter at their disposal.
“We just thought this was the best way to go,” Corbin said. “We can come back, get some practice in familiar surroundings and then go back. With the space between games, this just made sense.”
A healthy Millsap
Paul Millsap, who didn’t play Thursday against Portland, said that he would’ve gone if the matchup against the Trail Blazers meant something. He didn’t practice without restriction Friday because of a strained groin. He said he was good to play in Sunday’s opener against the Spurs.
Golden State won a random drawing with Toronto, the NBA announced Friday.
With the victory, the Warriors will be slotted seventh overall in the 2012 NBA draft lottery.
Utah will get Golden State’s pick if it’s No. 8 or worse after the May 30 lottery.
The draft will be held June 28 in Newark, N.J.
Right now, Utah doesn’t have a pick in the first round of the draft. The Jazz’s primary selection went to Minnesota, since Utah made the playoffs.
The Jazz hold the No. 47 overall selection in the second round.
The Tribune’s Brian T. Smith contributed to this report.