With more than their share of 30-somethings, the San Antonio Spurs may not seem like a logical choice to have the best transition offense in the league. But after running the NBA's most effective transition attack in the regular season, the Spurs took their full-court game to another level in their sweep of the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
San Antonio scored 19.8 points per game in transition against Utah, an increase of nearly four points per game from its regular-season average. And the Spurs pinpoint shooting when on the break (62.2 percent from the floor) allowed them to average 1.30 points per play in transition, an increase from their NBA-best 1.24 transition points per play in the regular season.
But it isn't solely fast-break offense that has San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals for the 12th time in 15 seasons. The Spurs dominated the Jazz from the 3-point line as well, making 33 3-pointers to the Jazz's nine during the series. While San Antonio made 41 percent of its 3-pointers in the first round, the Jazz shot just 20 percent from 3-point territory, including an 0-13 performance Monday that was the Jazz's worst from beyond the arc in the regular season or postseason since Game 4 of the 2008 Western Conference first round vs. the Houston Rockets.
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When a team performs as well as the Spurs did both on the run and from 3-point territory, it's not surprising that they often win by a substantial margin. San Antonio outscored Utah by 64 points in the first round, its second-best point differential ever in a playoff series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Spurs outscored the Denver Nuggets by 67 (664-597) in the 1983 Western Conference semifinals.
Elias also tells us that it's the Spurs' sixth postseason sweep since Tim Duncan's rookie season in 1997-98. Only the Los Angeles Lakers, with seven, have more in that span. For the Jazz, it's the second straight playoff series they've failed to win a game after being swept by the Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference semifinals. Utah's eight-game postseason losing streak is the longest in franchise history.