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Jazz shootaround: Jazz must try to impose their will early in Game 6

Published April 28, 2017 3:19 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

With a win tonight in Game 6 at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Utah Jazz can win their first playoff series since 2010, a milestone for the current roster and the rebuilding effort spearheaded by general manager Dennis Lindsey and the coaching staff led by Quin Snyder.

All the Jazz have to do is beat a Clippers team starving for postseason success and led by one of the best point guard of his generation in Chris Paul. At this point in the best-of-seven series, both teams know exactly what they've got to contend with and how to make things miserable for one another.

Following the team's Thursday morning shootaround, the sense from Jazz veteran forward Joe Johnson and Snyder was that closing out there series will simply come down to a combination of will and execution during key times.

"You have to have that sense of urgency from the start," Johnson said. "I think probably, what ,four out of the five games we've gotten out to probably slow starts — other than the game where Gordon [Hayward] was hot here, which was what, Game 3? Other than that, we haven't gotten out to great starts. Tonight man, we need to — from the jump — you know jump on them and try to impose our will early."

Johnson, who has played in 106 career playoff games in his career including previous stops with the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, said it will be crucial for the Jazz to "lock in defensively" early in Game 6 and not making things difficult on themselves in the early stages.

Coming off of consecutive wins, one in Salt Lake City and one in Los Angeles, the Jazz will try to keep the series from going back to L.A. for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.

"It's probably going to be the hardest game of the series, but I think throughout the series we've grown and matured," Johnson said. "We've got to think of this as our Game 7. We cannot go back to LA, and these guys know and understand that."

Despite having so many young players experiencing a playoff run for the first time and the overall group experiencing it for the first time together, Snyder said there has been no difference in the approach going into Game 6.

"I wouldn't use loose as the word to describe it. I think there's no — you don't play a game like this with kind of this ominous, foreboding pressure like that's the way to perform at your highest level. At the same time, you don't go into this thing happy that you're here. You always are wanting more."

Snyder expressed confidence in his team's ability to finish strong in the fourth quarter of close games, but he also stressed that the Clippers' experience in close late-game situations makes them dangerous.

"You try to put people in position where they can be successful, and, ultimately, players make plays," Snyder said. "We've had guys that have done that. There were a couple times where you don't want to be in those situations, and we've made some mistakes that have eroded a cushion. In some sense, we've made some plays where we've had to come back. It's something that we spend a lot of time on and try to have a focus in those moments. It's something the Clippers are very, very good at. It's something that Clippers, primarily because of Chris Paul and his ability to orchestrate. It's something that Doc [Rivers] has done for a long time. You've got Jamal Crawford, who is able to create a shot. There's a lot of places they can go so we need to be good in those situations because they're so good.

"Like I said, for us sometimes its not one player. It's multiple players, and that's kind of the nature of our team — having balance. It may involve a matchup or a hot hand or anything along those lines."

—Lynn Worthy






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