Top-seeded San Antonio is hoping to bury the memories of last season's embarrassing first-round playoff loss and took the first step on Sunday with a 106-91 rout of Utah.
Now the Spurs, behind NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich, hope to put the Jazz in quite a hole when the two teams battle in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals in the Alamo City.
Tony Parker netted 28 points and dished out eight assists, leading San Antonio to the resounding Game 1 win.
"I was trying to set up my teammates and be aggressive. Overall we were aggressive," said Parker. "We have to match [Utah's] energy. They're a very physical team and they play with a lot of intensity. It's going to be a war the whole series on the boards. "
"He's (Tony Parker) the reason we've been successful thus far this season," Popovich added. "He continued that tonight. He's had a wonderful year. He's been very focused and did another good job, as you saw."
Tim Duncan tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds, his 128th postseason double- double good for fifth all-time, for the Spurs, who have won 11 games in a row dating back to the regular season since an April 11 defeat to the Lakers.
Veteran Stephen Jackson chipped in with 14 points and 4 rebounds off the bench to lead the Spurs' reserves. San Antonio's bench, which ranked first in the NBA in scoring at 41.9 points per game during the regular season, outscored its Jazz counterparts 44-31.
"He (Stephen Jackson) was really good tonight," San Antonio swingman Manu Ginobili said. "He got some big boards, some important buckets, getting fouls drawn. He had a very complete game. We needed his competitiveness and toughness and he brought it today, it was great to see him play like that."
Unlike last year, the top-seeded Spurs are off to a good start in the playoffs. In 2011, they lost their opener at home to the Grizzlies and were ousted in six games despite having the No. 1 seed.
"The guys they put on the floor are very effective in what they are trying to do and they do a great job of executing the offense," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of San Antonio. "On defense, they're all aggressive on what they're trying to do. Their rotations are quick and crisp. There's not a lot of guessing on this team. They just react to what you do and try to force you off your spot."
Paul Millsap had 20 points and nine rebounds in Game 1 for the Jazz. Gordon Hayward had 17 points and Al Jefferson ended with 16 points and nine boards for Utah , which has won just twice at San Antonio since May 2, 1999.
"They (the Spurs) are a good team defensively, obviously," Hayward said. "One thing that is overlooked is their offense. They get the ball in the paint and then it is pick your poison: kick-out, start shooting threes, dump down passes or little floaters. We have to find some way to keep it out of the paint and make it a little difficult."
On the injury front, Spurs backup big man Tiago Splitter is doubtful for Game 2 after suffering a sprained left wrist in the opener. Pitt product DeJuan Blair, who was a starter before Boris Diaw took his job last month, will likely replace Splitter in the rotation.
For the Jazz, forward Josh Howard is expected to remain in the starting lineup even after going scoreless in 16 minutes during Game 1. Howard, of course, just returned from knee surgery last week.
Off the floor, Popovich was named the NBA's Coach of the Year for the second time on Tuesday. The veteran mentor was lauded for the way he managed the minutes of his veteran players in this lockout-shortened season.
Overall these teams have met in the postseason four times with a John Stockton and Karl Malone-led Jazz group taking the first three series in 1994, '96 and '98 before the Spurs broke through in the West finals in 2007.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday back in Utah.