Will rest be beneficial or detrimental for the Utah Jazz against the LA Clippers?
If you ask Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, rust might not be the right word to debate or even something that he’s worried about. Instead it’s the continuity and momentum that can be gained from recent competition.
When Game 1 of the Utah Jazz’s second-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers tips off on Tuesday night, the Jazz will have been away from the game for five days.
There’s no doubt that the Jazz appreciate the time off, given Donovan Mitchell’s recent return from a significant right ankle sprain and Mike Conley exiting Gam 5 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday with a hamstring strain. But the age-old debate of rest vs. rust will be a talking point heading into this series.
Though, if you ask Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, rust might not be the right word to debate or even something that he’s worried about. Instead it’s the continuity and momentum that can be gained from recent competition.
“We were in a similar situation where we played a team in Memphis that had played some very competitive games prior to — essentially Game 7s,” Snyder said, referring to when the Jazz waited for the Play-In Tournament to conclude before playing the first round of the playoffs. “And we had been rested. I thought we didn’t have quite the level of continuity that we wanted in that first game. So that cuts both ways. Sometimes timing and continuity and rhythm can trump rest. Obviously there’s a balance there.”
The Jazz lost their opening game to the Grizzlies for a variety of reasons. They didn’t play their best and made a lot of mistakes that were correctable, but they also played without Mitchell, who was a surprising late addition to the injury report on game day.
There’s no way of knowing if the Jazz lost that game due to being out of rhythm, having lost some continuity over the break between the regular season and postseason, or because they were caught off guard by the aggressiveness of the Grizzlies, or if they just weren’t prepared enough. No matter the reason, the Jazz are hoping they can avoid repeating a Game 1 loss, so finding a balance in preparation is important.
That doesn’t mean that it’s easy though.
“To the extent that you’re able to practice, that becomes challenging frankly at this point in the year because you’re conscious of making sure that everybody’s healthy and at their best,” Snyder said.
Additionally, while the coaching staff and team of scouts had been working to prepare a game plan for both the Dallas Mavericks and Clippers, Snyder doesn’t want to send his players down a rabbit hole preparing for double the amount of matchups.
Instead the last few days have, as they usually are for the Jazz, been used to work internally and refine what they do best. But now that the Jazz know they’ll be facing the Clippers, the can go full steam ahead on specific schemes and matchup nuances.
“Taking advantage of tonight and tomorrow and Tuesday morning to try to prepare more specifically for the Clippers,” Snyder said.
Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal matchup between the Jazz and Clippers tips off on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. at Vivint Arena and will be broadcast on TNT.