It's always fun to play against some guys that are good at your position but like I said, I've got five guys. I don't got one guy. —Rudy Gobert
SALT LAKE CITY — Being focused on the defensive end.
Preventing early breakdowns.
Staying conscious of what’s going on.
Those are the themes that Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is stressing to his team as they host the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. tonight.
“I think their quickness and their versatility kind of go hand in hand,” Snyder said during Friday’s shootaround.
Even as attractive as the Rudy Gobert versus Hassan Whiteside battle of the big men rivalry may read in headlines, that’s not the main focus.
Other Heat players such as James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Goran Dragic present just as much of a challenge with their ability to pick-and-roll and utilize their different weapons.
“It’s a game that’s a tough test for our defense because there’s so many combinations and so many actions that happen throughout the course of the game,” Snyder said.
Gobert and Whiteside have occasionally exchanged jabs at each other via social media, but the Jazz Frenchman refused to label their on-court battles as a rivalry.
“We only play them twice a year,” Gobert said at Thursday’s practice. “He’s on the other side of the country. It’s always fun to play these guys, but I’m focused on my team.”
Both Whiteside and Gobert are two of the bigger personalities in the league, and some of the best defenders. Whiteside made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2016 while Gobert finished runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Gobert currently leads the league in blocked shots.
Jazz vs. Heat
Today, 7 p.m.
As the big men prepare to hit the court, Gobert says he doesn’t need any extra motivation to bring his A-game. Utah (5-6) has dropped three straight. That, in itself, is more than enough to go all out.
“I’m motivated every game,” Gobert said. “It’s always fun to play against some guys that are good at your position but like I said, I’ve got five guys. I don’t got one guy.”