Trash talk is as much a part of basketball as the ball itself, and the verbal blows never flow as easily as they do during the NBA playoffs. But the Utah Jazz are hoping that their actions speak louder than their words this postseason.
The Jazz are keenly aware of how they’re viewed and what kind of reputation they’ve built after multiple losses in the first or second round of the postseason, and they know they have a mountain to climb, no matter what is said between competitors on the court.
“We’ve got to prove it, we’ve got to earn it,” Rudy Gobert said after Jazz practice on Wednesday. “I don’t blame people for overlooking us until we accomplish something.”
Make no mistake, the Jazz will throw out their fair share of jeers, gibes and wisecracks, despite being without Joe Ingles, who had been the resident trash talker on the Jazz squad for the last few years.
There are a few players on the current Jazz team who have been known to get in some taunts and digs when on the court. Hassan Whiteside is certainly never afraid to ruffle some feathers, and Donovan Mitchell isn’t one to shy away from some friendly barb tossing.
Even so, the Jazz aren’t concerned with what’s being said, at least not right now.
“I don’t want us to necessarily be talkers,” Gobert said. “I want us to let our physicality and our game — the way we play, the chip we have on our shoulder — I want that to define who we are.”
The Jazz are going to get their first shot at letting their actions speak when their first-round series against the Mavericks kicks off on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. MST in Dallas and there’s already some light trash talking that’s happening.
After Mavericks practice on Wednesday, Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith was asked by a reporter if he thought the Jazz would use Gobert to guard him, something the Jazz have done in the past.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Finney-Smith said before starting to laugh a little bit. “If they do then I’m probably going to get a bunch of 3s.”
Then there’s the lingering thoughts about the last time the Jazz used Gobert to guard Luka Doncic in the final moments of a game and despite the Jazz winning that game, Doncic said it was a matchup that the Mavericks had wanted.
“Teams are going to do anything they can to try to disrupt your game, that’s part of it,” Gobert said. “No matter what happens, for us to stay focused and stay together and not let anything distract us is really the most important thing.”
Sometimes that’s easier said than done.