This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Quin Snyder may not exactly be salivating as he scans the menu.
"I really don't look at that at all," the coach said about his upcoming opponents' records. "The minute you start looking at that, you remember that it's the NBA and everybody beats everybody. You have to be ready to play."
And the Utah Jazz should be grabbing their forks, sharpening their knives and preparing to feast for the next three games, fattening up in the win column.
The Jazz are smack dab in the middle of the Western Conference playoff pack with 21 games left on their schedule. And things are about to get a whole lot tougher after they tip off against three straight teams with losing records this week.
The Jazz already have dropped the ball once this week, falling flat in a 27-point blowout loss to the 10th-place Timberwolves.
It was a wasted opportunity for a Jazz team fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs next month. Snyder's squad has just nine games left at Vivint Smart Home Arena before the regular season ends, and a win over a likely lottery-bound Minnesota team in front of the fans in Salt Lake City could have pushed Utah a full game ahead of the fifth-place Clippers in the conference standings.
"It's the NBA. We got 82 games in a few months. We got to come out ready and be tough mentally," a frustrated Rudy Gobert said after the loss. "Every time we're a little tired, we just play like we want to show that we're tired. It's not how it should work. All of us, we got to be tougher."
That's especially true, since things only are going to get leaner and meaner from here.
The number crunchers at fivethirtyeight.com favor the Jazz in 13 of their final 21 games of the season, but Utah faces one of the toughest remaining schedules in the Western Conference.
The Jazz generally have taken care of business against teams they should beat, compiling a 28-8 record against losing teams. Against teams with .500 records or better? Utah is just 9-16 this season.
That makes these next three games all the more important for Utah's playoff seeding.
The Jazz take on the 10-win Brooklyn Nets on Friday, then travel to Sacramento to take on a suddenly DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings team, before returning home to take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
"We've got to find a way," forward Gordon Hayward said.
Wednesday's loss to Minnesota pricked the Jazz's pride. "Tonight we were probably the worst team I ever seen," Gobert said.
Still, Hayward believes it was only a momentary lapse and that the Jazz will get back on track.
"It's not concerning for me," he said. "We've got to move past it. We'll come ready to play for the next one. … Have to take [Thursday] to rest up, put this one behind you. We'll be all right. Come Friday, we'll be ready to play. We'll make sure of that."
Brooklyn Nets at Utah Jazz
P At Vivint Smart Home Arena
Tipoff • 7 p.m. Friday
TV • ROOT
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
About the Nets • The league's worst team this season won't even see a benefit in the lottery: the Boston Celtics own Brooklyn's first-round pick. … A win over Sacramento this week snapped a 16-game losing streak. … Former Jazzman Trevor Booker is averaging 10.3 points and 8.6 rebounds a night for the Nets.
About the Jazz • Wednesday's 27-point defeat to the Timberwolves was Utah's worst home loss of the Quin Snyder era. … Rodney Hood, who sat out seven games with a knee injury before the all-star break, missed Wednesday's game with soreness in his right knee. … Rudy Gobert passed Ben Poquette (517) for eighth on the Jazz's all-time blocks leader list.