For the second straight season, the San Antonio Spurs start the NBA Playoffs as the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. Last year, they were famously bounced by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. This Spurs team is a different animal.
Perhaps the key difference entering the Spurs' series this year against the Utah Jazz is that Manu Ginobili is healthy, as are Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The trio have been strategically rested all season long to ensure readiness in this series. Whether the stupendous play of the role players such as Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal can continue in the second season is the only unknown for the team that is suddenly considered a legitimate title contender.
The Jazz, on the other hand, will be watching tape of last year's Grizzlies series, specifically that of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The Jazz feature some talented big men of their own — Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors — and they'll be the keys to their chances of upsetting the Spurs, who are admittedly undersized. Utah's X-Factor, and the player to keep an eye on in Sunday's series opener, is point guard Devin Harris. Harris was a major piece of the Deron Williams trade and has been an All-Star. If he can return to the level he's capable of playing at, he could send the Spurs packing early once again.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, April 29, 1 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas