LOS ANGELES — The Jazz practiced at UCLA's Student Activities Center a day ahead of their Game 2 matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Jazz big Derrick Favors, point guard George Hill, and head coach Quin Snyder spoke to the media.
Unsurprisingly, Rudy Gobert is out for Game 2. He was at the Jazz's practice, lightly shooting and walking around with a slight limp. Still, he wasn't running, which means it's fair to expect Gobert to be out for a while.
"He's out there limping and shooting," Quin Snyder said. "So I don't know if I would call it working out. That's like you and me working out."
"For him to be without a crutch, that's maybe more progress than we thought at the time," Snyder pointed out. "His focus now is to try to get back. Whether he can do that is another story."
No timeframe has been set for Gobert's return, but he will be re-evaluated Tuesday to see how the knee is progressing.
Rudy Gobert out for Game 2 but moving well and active at practice today pic.twitter.com/luXydzCLel— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) April 17, 2017
Raul Neto has been upgraded to questionable for Game 2, still recovering from a left ankle sprain. He was moving well during the portions of practice we observed. I am curious, though, if he'll make the 13-man active roster. The Jazz had been sitting Joel Bolomboy in that spot, but now will probably like to have him available with Gobert's injury. On the other hand, the team has four healthy point guards now.
I asked Snyder how Neto can contribute during this series.
"The same way Jeff Withey and Fav did," he started. "Hopefully not. Just his presence on the bench. The same way he did against Portland, when Lillard got going, and we used him to come in. The same way he has when he started. You don't know how you're going to contribute, you just have to contribute in any way you can. Including being Chris Paul in practice."
That doesn't sound like Neto will be the primary backup option, even when healthy. I'd expect the Jazz to continue using Shelvin Mack, unless he gets burned too badly defensively.
With Gobert out just 17 seconds into the Jazz's Game 1 matchup, Derrick Favors got thrown in the fire quickly.
"It was a little bit of a surprise for me. I wasn't as ready as I wanted to be," Favors said. "But I had to be ready quick, get my mind right and my body right."
Favors was noticeably tired at the end of the game, though understandably so. He played 32 minutes in the contest; due to injuries, Favors hadn't played more than 24 minutes in the two months prior to the playoffs.
"Before I got hurt, I was used to playing 30, 32, 35 minutes," Favors said. "I've just got to prepare my mind and my body, and be ready to go from the jump."
It's obviously difficult to gain that level of conditioning back, especially when you're also trying not to tire yourself out for a critical Game 2. And Favors is also still dealing with a little bit of soreness in his knee.
"It was a mindset. I knew I was going to play a lot of minutes once Rudy went down. I knew I was going to have to fight through fatigue, fight through whatever soreness I had," Favors said. "If I was tired, I just made sure to play through it. I just wanted to be there for my team."
The team was a little bit worried that the soreness would linger for Favors. That's happened after he's played major minutes in some games this season: the worst part was the day after a game, when his knee really started to hurt. But Snyder reported that that wasn't the case after Saturday's big minute game, a very good sign.
Going for a Game 2 win
In some sense, the Jazz have already gotten what they came to L.A. to get: a victory. If you had asked the Jazz before the series about it, all of them would have taken a road split of the first two games.
But now that they won the first game, the second one seems winnable as well.
"We were happy about it, but it was back to business," Favors said of the Game 1 win. "We're going to be ready. We're going to play with the same energy, same mindset as we did in Game 1 to get another win."
George Hill said that the team was playing well together as a unit right now. "All of those disadvantages that we had early in the year with guys going in and out of the lineup really strengthened our team up."
It's going to be difficult. I expect the Clippers to attack the glass, and to be more variable in choosing their plays than they were in Game 2. But the Jazz can play better too: none of Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, or Joe Ingles shot the ball well. The game could well be determined by which team's guard improves their shooting the most in Game 2.