OAKLAND, Calif. — It's only been a week since they reconvened, but the Utah Jazz are already tired of scraping and scrapping against each other.
Optimists, feel free to take that as a sign the competition in camp has been so rugged and intense players are dying to face somebody not wearing a Jazz uniform.
One can hope, right?
As far as Tyrone Corbin is concerned, the two-a-days and training sessions were at the very least productive and promising.
The Jazz coach is as eager as the players to get the preseason rolling, which the team will do tonight against Golden State. Utah will tip off its eight-game exhibition season at 8:30 p.m. against the Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Tonight's game will not be televised. It will be broadcast on radio — with play-by-play man David Locke on the call — on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM.
Corbin comes into the preseason-opener against former Ute Andrew Bogut's new team with a sense of curiosity.
He is interested to see the game-setting response of his squad, which includes three newly integrated veterans who figure to play key roles.
"You get used to playing against each other in practice, and you get tired of playing against each other in practice," Corbin said. "Now, with a fresh new group of defenders and offensive guys, how do we transfer what we do into the game?"
Corbin hasn't revealed which five he'll start, but expected starters Mo Williams (point guard) and Al Jefferson (center) are likely to play after sitting out Saturday's open scrimmage with minor injuries.
"I don't miss games if I can help it. I will most definitely go," Jefferson said at Sunday's practice after revealing he'd slightly hurt his groin. "I wanted to go (Saturday) night, but Coach tells me to do it easy."
Without going into detail, Corbin hinted that he might experiment with player combinations. He wants to see what rotations mesh best.
Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward have spent most of the camp playing on the same team in scrimmages, so that could offer insight into a possible pairing at the wing spots.
Corbin has raved about Paul Millsap, from his leadership to his fitness level, so it's quite possible the coach will keep the longest-tenured Jazz player as a starter and bring Derrick Favors off the bench.
Then again, the way Corbin has been reluctant to name starters, he could play some mix-and-match throughout the preseason to evaluate on-court chemistry.
Corbin has an "idea" (top secret, of course) about how he plans to distribute minutes tonight. The main players will get some action, but not too much.
"You want to see the other guys and how they mix in with different match-ups," Corbin said. "Can they come off the bench and give you this? Or what group will give you a faster lineup or a defensive lineup?"
The Jazz have until their Halloween season-opener — home against Dallas — to answer their most pressing questions.
"You want to figure that out as soon as you can," Corbin said. "We have a lot of bodies to do it with, but we have to have some guys who play and give some guys some rest."
Corbin was nothing but complimentary about how his players took to his first full camp as a head coach.
"I thought the guys came in great shape. They were focused right from Day 1," he said. "We had a lot of practices. The two-a-days are tough. Their bodies are beat up. You're a little tired and fatigued, and you're thinking a lot because you have a lot of sets to get in."
Added Corbin: "But they fought their way through it for the most part. The guys, they picked a lot of stuff up. I saw a lot of great things in the scrimmage last night, but their focus and effort's been great all training camp."
Though it's meaningless in the long haul, Mo Williams believes this preseason contest is a good barometer for Utah.
"This is our first time against another team. We just want to see where we are," Williams said. "We want to see what areas we need to continue to improve on."2 comments on this story
Williams admitted it's "tough to get a read" against players when they know everything you're doing, as happens against your own team.
He's also happy the Jazz don't need the preseason to get fit.
"One thing I can tell you, for sure, our conditioning is there. So that's not a factor," he said. "We don't have to worry about using games to get into shape. We're just trying to clean up a lot of things."
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