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Utah Jazz healthy, ready for physical nature of playoffs

Published April 14, 2017 10:40 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Banged up and bruised, the Utah Jazz had almost full participation in Friday's practice before the team was scheduled to head to Los Angeles in advance of Saturday's playoff series-opening game against the Clippers in the Staples Center.

Reserve guard Raul Neto was the only player who did not participate in practice despite Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood all having limped to the regular-season finish line in recent weeks.

The Jazz sat Hayward, who'd been dealing with a recent quadriceps contusion, out of Monday's game, while Hood and Favors have been playing through knee soreness. Hill suffered a groin strain that forced him to miss four games including last Saturday's game against the Portland Trailblazers.

"We had participation," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said following practice. "There's always a balance, you know, as far as how hard you want to prepare and kind of balancing being able to do things that are live to give you a better feel what they're going to be like in a game and keeping your team healthy and fresh. That's something we've been conscious of all year."

Jazz veteran guard/forward Joe Johnson has a wealth of postseason experience from his time with Phoenix (15 games), Atlanta (47 games), Brooklyn (25 games) and Miami (14 games). Johnson said he expects this series against the Clippers to a physically-tough series, but the players should be able to push past whatever nagging ailments they may have.

"This is special," Johnson said. "We've got a special group of guys. We all probably got aches and pains, but you put that to the side when you step out there in between those lines."

Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who has international experience on the French national team, will play in the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career. As the rim protector on defense as well as an offensive post presence, he figures to be in the middle of the traffic on both ends of the floor throughout the series.

Gobert anticipated some of the chippy play from the regular-season games between the teams to carry over with the added intensity of the playoffs.

"Both teams want to win," Gobert said. "We know it's going to get physical. We've got to just keep doing what we do."

— Lynn Worthy






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