Utah's lengthy playoff run is providing an education of sorts.
Jazz rookies Paul Millsap, Dee Brown and Ronnie Brewer are getting a first-hand view of what it takes to succeed in the NBA.
"Being able to be here and see the intensity of the games, hopefully, will help those guys," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "A lot of guys never play in the playoffs their whole career and I think that's something they can learn from to make themselves better.
"You can talk about all that stuff all you want," he added. "It doesn't do any good until you are faced with it."
The challenge, included therein, is something Millsap and Brown appreciate.
"I've got the opportunity to play on a winning team in a great league with a great organization," said Brown. "I'm going to take it all in."
Brown vows not to get complacent or satisfied. He's determined to continue learning, keep winning and do his job all the while having fun.
"It's all about winning," said Brown. "When you're winning it's happiness."
After prevailing in playoff series with Houston and Golden State, the Jazz find themselves in a 2-0 deficit against the Spurs.
In Game 2, Millsap's contributions were hampered by three foul calls in a four-minute span.
"It was real frustrating," said Millsap. "It's kind of hard to sit on the bench and watch your team go down when you think you can go out there and make a difference."
Though Millsap has seen limited action averaging 18 minutes during the regular season and 14.4 in the playoffs he has appeared in all 96 games and was named to the NBA's All-Rookie second team.
"We appreciate what he's been able to do for us," said Sloan, who is impressed with Millsap's approach to the game. "It's kind of amazing. When you tell him something he hears it."
It's an attribute that impresses Sloan and his no nonsense philosophy.
"I can't coach guys who don't want to work. I get criticized, maybe, for not playing guys," said Sloan. "If they're not ready I can't play them more and young guys have got a lot to learn in most cases."
Millsap and Brown, at times, have worked themselves into the rotation during Utah's deep playoff run.
"They get paid. We call on them and they should be ready to go,"
said Sloan. "That's the good thing about it. When they've got called on, they stepped out there and played."
The future is bright, he continued, if they continue to work at their game and try to make themselves better each year.
"It's a great opportunity and a great situation to be in," said Brown.
As such, Millsap has no plans to tone things down after the quick foul calls on him in Game 2.
"Sometimes the calls just don't go your way. You've just got to learn to deal with those situations and try to prevent yourself from being in the same situation the next game," he said. "I can't say I can do anything different. I'll continue to do what I do.
"I'll just continue to be aggressive," he continued. "That's my thing. That's what I've been doing all year."
Sloan has similar thoughts.
"He's had some success because he's done that. That's what you hope he always continues to do throughout his career. That's how you get better," said Sloan. "Obviously, he gets fouls. You can't do much about it. You just sit down and say 'How can I do better next time?' If you want to get better, that's entirely up to the player."
Improvement is definitely on the players' agenda. Though Millsap admits to hitting a wall or two during the campaign while adjusting from a college season to the rigors of NBA life, he credits Sloan for keeping him ready.
"Coach has kept us in great shape to prepare for this," said Millsap. "He's a good coach to prepare us for this situation."
Millsap acknowledged that his body got a bit worn down at times, he chalks it up to playing in the NBA.
"You've got to learn to overcome those things," he said.Comment on this story
Brown's learning curve is a bit different. The rookie point guard hasn't had as much playing time and has yet to face much difficulty in his transition from college ball to the pros. He's made 54 appearances this season, including just five in the playoffs.
"I've got to play a lot of minutes for me to hit a wall," said Brown. "I'm too energetic, too young and I love basketball too much."Utah's other rookie, Brewer, is also seeing limited action. He played in 56 games during the regular season and five playoff contests, thus far.