A Utah Jazz Community

Snyder, who in Austin began to collect the ashes of his own broken career and systematically rebuild it over most of a decade, is now the coach of the NBA's Utah Jazz, a team that opened a playoff series Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And more impressive than pushing the team into the ...

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The difference between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder comes in the form of star power. Quin Snyder’s group is led by Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — two players serving the roles of subtle stars. To anybody who regularly pays attention to this Jazz team, the subtle stardom isn’t so subtle. Gobert is integral to the team’s offensive efficiency and clearly leads what’s typically the best defensive execution in the NBA. While Mitchell will eventually be an overt star in this league, the rookie has more consistency of a subtle star on the rise.

In Game 1 in Oklahoma City, the Thunder reminded everybody of how overwhelming overt stardom can be. Instead of Russell Westbrook acting as a battering ram into the heart of the Jazz defense, we saw a much more balanced attack. Paul George, Westbrook’s running mate, dropped eight 3-pointers on the night as he totaled 36 points to lead the Thunder in their 116-108 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. If it’s even possible, Westbrook flanked him with a quiet 29 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists.

That overt stardom proved to be too much for the Jazz. Gobert had a solid game defensively, but nothing resembling his Defensive Player of the Year award case. Mitchell looked incredible in his playoff debut, but a pinky toe injury took him out of the end of the night with the game mostly in hand. Ricky Rubio’s 5-of-18 shooting night looked more like the rookie shooting that plagued his scouting report, as the Thunder essentially begged him to beat them.

Prior to Game 1, George wanted to remind the media of “Playoff P,” his postseason alter ego that apparently torches wing corps. A few people laughed at the notion, especially early on when the Jazz jumped out to a double-digit lead. Once George found his rhythm within the flow of the game, it didn’t really matter what the Jazz did to defend him. Playoff P had a flamethrower in his hands. He took off-balanced shots in which his own screening teammate leaned into...

OKLAHOMA CITY — Now that the playoffs are here, the next item on the Jazz’s to-do list is beating Oklahoma City in their best-of-seven series.

No pressure, of course.

This year’s playoffs mean absolutely nothing in the big picture to the Jazz.

Except that the playoffs actually are the big picture.

Teams play the regular season so they can appear in the postseason. Ask the Golden State Warriors how concerned they are about winning regular-season titles. They don’t give it a second thought.

Meanwhile, all that Jazz success down the stretch will mean half as much if they don’t win at least one series.

Under the circumstances, going 29-6 over the final three months was quite an accomplishment. But fewer than half those wins came against playoff-bound teams (12 of 29). Seven of their last nine games were against teams that were already locked into a playoff spot, or entirely out of the picture.

In short, how big a deal was the Jazz’s historic finish on the season?

They’ll let you know this week.

This is where the Jazz can prove they’re truly moving forward after losing Gordon Hayward and George Hill; whether they’re a team of the future or simply an overachieving bunch that caught lightning in a bottle. Strip away the emotion from the Jazz’s late-season run and the playoffs will make it easier to see if they’re actually just the flavor of the month.

“There’s a lot ways to look at it,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Some of that, you guys (media) are going to determine. I think there’s success in the season independent of success in the postseason.”

In some ways, the Jazz caught a break with their early-season adversity. They got their injuries out of the way quickly. Rudy Gobert’s absences were contained to the first three months. That left him with plenty of energy for the stretch run. Dante Exum returned in time to get in shape for the playoffs. Only Thabo...
The Western Conference playoff matchup between the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and fifth-seeded Utah Jazz is the embodiment of a Super Mario Bros. mystery block: No one really knows what to expect. And either of these hard-nosed defensive clubs could put a scare into the dominant ...

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NEW YORK -- The Philadelphia 76ers' Brett Brown and the Utah Jazz's Quin Snyder today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in March and April.

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