This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Everyone associated with the Jazz was stunned and frightened when center Rudy Gobert fell to the court with a knee injury of the opening possession of Saturday's Game 1 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. Just imagine being Derrick Favors, suddenly elevated to a major role in this series.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder described the forward as "doubly surprised" about the sequence of events that sent him into the game when play was stopped 17 seconds after the tipoff. That might be underplaying the degree of shock that Favors felt, being summoned so soon.
And that was just the start of the adjustment for him. Favors had missed 14 games since early March with a knee injury. He appeared in three of the last four regular-season games, but never for more than 21 minutes.
Favors ended up playing 32 minutes in Game 1, posting 15 points and six rebounds. He wore down at at the end, but made a big contribution to the 97-95 victory. And he'll remain a critical component of the Jazz's effort in this series, for as long as Gobert remains out officially, through Tuesday night's Game 2 at the Staples Center.
Favors at least will be prepared for his expanded role Tuesday. The early call Saturday obviously was "a little bit of a surprise for me," he said after Monday's practice at UCLA. "I wasn't as ready as I wanted to be, but I had to be ready quick. I had to get my mind right, my body right, and just be ready to go."
Snyder's biggest questions were how long Favors would last on the court, not having played much for six weeks, and and how he would recover from the extended work. "It was good to find out that he could do that," Snyder said. "I thought he got tired, but he did a nice job."
The spread-out schedule of the series helps with the recovery process. Game 3 is not until Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, so Favors will get another break after Game 2. Game 4 is Sunday and Game 5 is Tuesday. Gobert possibly could return somewhere in that range.
Favors will be vital in Gobert's absence, that's for sure. This is his opportunity to make an impact after a frustrating season when he has played through injuries. The Jazz need him to stay out of foul trouble and rebound the ball, especially. Snyder joked about how Gobert takes rebounds away from even his own teammates, but it's true. Gobert so aggressively pursues the ball that there's not a lot of rebounding for other Jazzmen to do when he's playing. When he's gone, others have to fill that role.
Gordon Hayward responded with 10 rebounds in Game 1, and Favors will have to get more than six in Game 2 for the Jazz to have any chance of winning again.