Jazz expect Vivint Arena crowd to be ‘mind-boggling’ for Game 3
Donovan Mitchell and Danuel House said after Thursday morning’s shootaround that Vivint Arena during the playoffs is the loudest arena they’ve ever played in
Despite what Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovich said before the playoff series about Utah having “weapons” in reserve, the Dallas Mavericks have actually had more role players step up to catch the opposing team by surprise.
Maybe the Jazz’s biggest weapon is its home crowd advantage, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Danuel House said Thursday morning after a shootaround at the Jazz’s Zions Bank Basketball Campus.
With Thursday’s tipoff set for 7 p.m. at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, both players urged Jazz fans to do what they’ve done before.
“Give it to us. Take note. We need everybody in Utah to come out and support. It is the playoffs. Come, be loud, bring a lot of noise, come have fun and support, no matter what.” — Utah Jazz player Danuel House
“Give it to us. Take note. We need everybody in Utah to come out and support,” said House, whom the Jazz acquired in January. “It is the playoffs. Come, be loud, bring a lot of noise, come have fun and support, no matter what.”
The series between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the Western Conference is tied 1-1.
After Dallas’ shootaround at Vivint, most questions centered around the availability of injured Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who missed games 1 and 2 with a strained left calf. Doncic was upgraded from doubtful to questionable on Wednesday.
“We will see how he feels at game time,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said, noting that the Slovenian will go through his regular pregame routine before a decision is made regarding whether he will play.
Asked about the possibility of him guarding the 28-point scorer Thursday night, House paused a half-second and then said: “Next question.”
Later, House described himself as an underrated defender who doesn’t get the credit he deserves for that aspect of his game.
“I think I am a really good one. I think I get slept on a lot. Like, to be honest with you, I feel like a few (tough matchups) I have played against I have done fairly well, defensively. And I should be mentioned somewhere, somehow, someway.”
House was also asked what he remembers about Utah’s playoff atmosphere when he was with the Houston Rockets in 2018 and 2019 when the clubs met in the 2018 Western Conference semifinals and the 2019 first round.
“The fans are intense. They bring energy. They bring noise. The energy here tonight, I anticipate it should be mind-boggling,” House said. “… Because we still represent the state. We love the state. We all live here, so hey, we representing the state, so come out and support the state.”
Mitchell said that based on past performances from Utah’s crowd, that shouldn’t be a concern. He called Vivint Arena during playoff games the loudest arena he has ever played in.
“It is just loud. Everything is loud. Like, we run out of the tunnel for warmups, and it is loud. In introductions, it is loud. You make a layup, it is loud. You make a 3, and it is loud,” Mitchell said. “You go to some arenas, and they only get loud the last five minutes, (for) a big shot, a dunk. Everything (here) is loud. Every possession. A steal is loud. A great defensive (play) is loud.”
House and Mitchell surmised that part of the reason for the otherworldly energy is because Utah is one of the NBA’s smallest markets and the fans have more of a sense of ownership of the team.
“That is the passion and fire that you get when you come here and play against our home crowd and against us,” Mitchell said. “We feed off of that. This will be my fifth time doing it. I keep telling everybody that is new, ‘Wait until you see it. The home court advantage here is different.’”
Mitchell, who led the Jazz with 34 points in the 110-104 Game 2 loss in Dallas, but didn’t shoot particularly well (13 of 30) and didn’t defend all that well, either, said the playoffs bring out the best in the Jazz crowd, and the altitude of Salt Lake City (4,226 feet) can’t be discounted either.
“You can feel it is the playoffs,” he said. “I think it is one of those things that you can see for yourselves.”
House said an argument could be made that Utah’s phenomenal support can be attributed to the smaller market, which has the potential to be “huuuge” in terms of growth and networking. Asked to elaborate, he did just that.
“Like, you gotta think about it like this: There are a lot of wealthy people out here. Like, they do fairly well for themselves. This state does fairly well for itself. The people, just the residents themselves, show you that the market is not down. You get what I am saying?
“You can tell by the freeways, when we are driving on the freeways,” he continued. “Where I am from, you see the potholes, you see that. But the infrastructure here, the cement looks fairly new. On the freeway that is getting whooped on every day, it is getting whooped on as we sit in the media room right now.”
Will the Jazz whoop on the Mavericks Thursday night?
Nobody knows for sure. But the fans will certainly do their part. Just like always.