How do the Jazz overcome the reality of their struggles on the road against their latest playoff opponent?
Several had ideas Saturday, the morning after Utah learned it would face the Spurs in a best-of-seven Western Conference finals series that gets under way today in San Antonio.
"Don't even think about it," point guard Deron Williams said after the Spurs knocked out Phoenix on Friday night.
"We never pay attention too much to what media said, or what the record is, the history," forward Andrei Kirilenko added. "Every game is different."
So too, they'll try to believe, is the postseason.
"We know we struggled there ... but we feel like this is another season," Williams said. "It's not the same. We're not the same team that we were during the season. So, we've got to put all that behind us and try to get one."
Then there is this approach, with a respectful nod to the past:
"We try to change history," said power forward Carlos Boozer, whose matchup with two-time NBA MVP Tim Duncan will be a focal point of the series.
"We go down there with the mindset that what happened before is behind us," Boozer added. "We're obviously a different team than a lot of those losses, and we're playing much better than the losses that we contributed to."
Rather than attempt to suppress it, then, Boozer embraces what happened before he happened along three years ago.
That in mind, he believes the Jazz should try to remember first and foremost that they went 2-2 against this Spurs this season yet also not forget that their last victory in San Antonio came Feb. 28, 1999, way back back when dinosaurs John Stockton, Karl Malone and Jeff Hornacek were all active NBA players.
"No matter what the players are, it's the Utah Jazz," Boozer said. "Now the players, they're gonna come and go. But it's us, and we're all part of the history here."
The No. 5 seed Jazz hope they can establish their own lore by building on the fact they've won eight of their last 10 playoff games while taking part in their first postseason since Stockton and Malone left Utah in 2003, and the fact that they're undefeated at home this postseason against both first-round opponent Houston and second-round foe Golden State.
And, oh yeah, the fact their two victories over the Spurs this season the last coming Jan. 31 means they've won four of their last six at home against San Antonio.
"We know we can beat this team," Boozer said. "It's seems like ages ago ... but we've definitely watched some tapes of us winning and hitting shots and making good defensive plays. All those things mean a great deal confidencewise."
And if the Jazz have anything right now, it's a heap full of confidence.
"Why not?" Kirilenko said when asked if Utah can overcome the mental block of winning in San Antonio. "Right now ... we can beat anybody.
"In the beginning of the season, I said we have a very talented team (but) we can beat anybody (or) we can lose to anybody. Very inconsistent, you know," he added. "(But) I think for the playoffs we gained that consistency, and right now we feel like we can really beat anybody."
Even the Spurs.
Even in San Antonio.
"I think we know we can go in and win," forward Matt Harpring said.
"You kind of look at the regular season a little bit," he added, "but both teams are playing a little bit differently now. I think both teams are playing better. So, I think it's gonna be a new open book."
Or at least one that perhaps can be rewritten.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, for one, has pen in hand as Utah attempts to draft its first invitation to the NBA Finals since Stockton, Malone and Hornacek got them there for a second straight time in 1998.
"Yeah, but all that stuff's out the window as far as I'm concerned," he said when asked about his club's record in San Antonio. "I realize that that's been a tough place to play. (But) I think their talent makes it difficult to play 'em there. I don't think the arena has anything to do with it.
"Their talent of players has been terrific. Duncan has been at the top for a long time, and they have great support with the players they have. They have three All-Star performers out there (in Duncan, point guard Tony Parker and swingman Manu Ginobili).
"So," Sloan added, "it's something we're just gonna have to try to deal with regardless of where we play them."
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