Jazz coach Jerry Sloan does not deem it much of an issue.
Still, plenty of talk in San Antonio Spurs camp Friday centered on the NBA's Western Conference finals series shifting to the Jazz's EnergySolutions Arena for tonight's Game 3.
"I've always loved playing there," two-time NBA MVP Tim Duncan said. "I love the atmosphere. I think the fans there are great. They're diehard, and you love that for a team."
"They've got a loud crowd, 'cause they've got a great arena but they're not obnoxious," added San Antonio's Robert Horry, who has appeared in more postseason games than any active NBA player. "They are a good, knowledgeable basketball crowd."
Spurs swingman Michael Finley, who visited in the 2001 postseason during his days with the Dallas Mavericks, went one step farther, anticipating that those gathering to watch the Jazz will be "hostile."
"Their crowd," Finley said, "is really enthusiastic. ... They really back their team, and their team really seems to feed off that, so it's definitely going to be a hostile crowd."
Sloan, however, doesn't for a New York minute believe that San Antonio will be adversely impacted by the passion of Utah fans.
"These guys we are playing," Sloan said, "are not going to be affected by the home crowd like a lot of people would when they get in that situation."
Perhaps that is because the Spurs have marched to three NBA titles since 1999.
Or maybe it's because nothing can trump what San Antonio faced in Game 5 on the road during its recently concluded Western Conference semifinal series against Phoenix."Everything is less than that, that's for sure," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
EMOTIONAL ANDREI: Appearing Friday on ESPN's popular "Pardon the Interruption" show, Utah guard Derek Fisher was asked about comments made Thursday by teammate Andrei Kirilenko suggesting that after falling down 0-2 to the Spurs "probably we (the Jazz) kind of not really believe in ourselves, probably we think that's our ceiling for this moment maybe."
"Andrei, emotionally, is always a guy ... right at the forefront of feeling great at times, and then at times he doesn't feel as well," Fisher told PTI's Michael Wilbon."What I love about Andrei is that he's honest a lot of times," Fisher added. "Sometimes it's not the right time to be honest, but he's a member of our team, and we respect that wholeheartedly, and if that's the way he feels, that's the way he feels. But that doesn't mean the rest of us are supposed to feel the way another teammate of ours feels."
COUNTERING BOOZER: He scored 33 points on 14-of-23 shooting from the field in last Tuesday's Game 2, but the Spurs seem confident they have Jazz scoring leader Carlos Boozer figured out."We are understanding what he wants to do, and where he wants to be, and we are countering it by being there," Duncan said. "We are not giving up those angles."
HE SAID IT: Sloan, on the Spurs: "They are shooting 54 percent in the two games we played. When a team shoots like that, they are just picking us apart."
HE SAID IT II: Jazz guard Dee Brown, on the series: "We are not intimidated at all. We are one of the best teams in the NBA. We are not intimidated. They (the Spurs) are just outplaying us right now."
HE SAID IT III: Jazz point Deron Williams, on Games 3 and 4 of the series: "We need these two wins badly. To go down 3-1 to a team like (San Antonio) would be disastrous."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL: Williams suggested Friday that the Jazz must ratchet their toughness tonight.
"I think we are a pretty tough team, pretty physical team," he said. "Maybe we have gotten away from that a little bit this series."If you look at it, especially in a couple of stretches," Williams added, "it doesn't look like we were playing as hard as we were against (prior playoff opponents) Golden State or Houston, especially on the defensive end."
MISC.: Several Jazz players hoped to take advantage of the three-day break between series games to shake persistent head colds ... Fisher will appear in his 131st playoff game tonight, tying him with ex-Los Angeles Laker teammate Kobe Bryant for seventh place on the NBA's all-time postseason games played list ... Duncan will move past Bryant and alone into sixth place on that same list at 132.
Contributing: Dirk Facer E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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