SALT LAKE CITY — As Quin Snyder leads the Utah Jazz from the sidelines against the Houston Rockets, he has a great deal of appreciation for their veteran floor general Chris Paul.
“I’ve said it before, I think Chris is probably a better coach than me,” Snyder admitted ahead of Utah’s 122-90 Game 1 playoff loss to Houston on Sunday.
“And that’s not saying much about me, but I’m trying to give him a compliment,” he continued. “His ability to read the game and lead at various times.”
While flattered with the praise, Paul knows how dangerous this Jazz team can be entering Game 2. Just last playoffs, the Jazz upset the Rockets with a Game 2 victory in their second round series at the Toyota Center, 116-108, on May 2, 2018.
“Tell Quin, I ain’t no free agent no more,” Paul responded jokingly during Tuesday’s practice. “He don’t need me any way.”
For the past three postseasons, the Jazz have faced Paul-led teams. In 2017, the Jazz beat Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers team, 4-3, in their first-round series, then fell to the Rockets, 4-1, in the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals only to meet again in the opening round of this series.
Paul posted 14 points with seven assists and four turnovers on 7-for-12 shooting in Game 1, but the Jazz are aware of how dangerous he can be as he averaged 24.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals in their series last year.
Paul also burned the Jazz for 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the Game 5 closeout to advance to the conference finals for the first time of his career.
“Chris Paul is a competitor,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “He’s got experience. He’s a very physical guy, he wants to intimidate you, intimidate the officials, intimidate everyone on the court and he’s got experience.
“He’s one of the best point guards in the league and he knows how to win.”
Although Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is the head coach, Paul’s role is to be the coach on the floor, which the 33-year-old has been doing for 14 seasons. Houston forward P.J. Tucker respects his ability to see things live while communicating those adjustments to his teammates.
“Next time that play happens, he will tell you something,” Tucker described.
Although Snyder’s compliment toward Paul as being a better coach was cool, it didn’t totally catch him by surprise even in the spirit of competition.
“Quin would say that. Me and Quin are both on the (NBA) competition committee,” Paul revealed. “So, I’ve got the utmost respect for him and when we’re in those long, three-hour competition committee meetings, you get a chance to see the way coaches minds work, so him, Brad Stevens and all the other people in there. I’ve got the utmost respect for Quin and how he coaches his team.”