Allll I’ve heard is the playoffs and we’re in the playoffs. We’re not in the playoffs. There’s no ‘x’ next to our name in the standings, so we need to play with more urgency, more focus. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY—Right in the midst of answering a question about defense Tuesday night after his team beat the Los Angeles Lakers 117-110 at Vivint Arena, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder shifted gears.
“Our focus needs to be, ‘be better,’” he said.
And then the “P” word came out: Playoffs.
“All I’ve heard is the playoffs and we’re in the playoffs,” Snyder said on a night when the Jazz struggled defensively throughout. “We’re not in the playoffs. There’s no ‘x’ next to our name in the standings, so we need to play with more urgency, more focus. We did the other night (a win Sunday on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves), and we’ve got to find that consistency. It sounds simple.”
With the win and losses by the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, Utah moved into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Spurs, with the Jazz owning the tiebreaker.
Given the number of teams behind them with just four games remaining in the regular season, then, the Jazz are straddling a line between making the playoffs a stated goal and staying focused on each individual game.
They are just 1.5 games up on the eighth-place New Orleans Pelicans.
“I think the most important thing is to be focused on us, on the moment,” said center Rudy Gobert, who finished Tuesday with 12 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. “We can be focused on next year, we can be focused on next game, but if you’re not focused on the moment, on the next play, the next screen, the next rebound, that’s when we lose focus and we get beat and we don’t understand why.”
Snyder echoed those sentiments.
“We’ve got to find that focus,” he said. “We can. We’ve had it, but it has to be important to us. We’ve talked about, ‘one game, one game.’ If you’re playing one game, the whole point of that is to be dialed in in that game, and if you’re not dialed in on that game, whatever you’re thinking about isn’t what you need to be thinking about. That can’t happen right now this time of year if we want to make the playoffs.”
Despite the fact that the Jazz didn’t turn in their best performance Tuesday night, the ever-confident Gobert expressed that he and his teammates fully believe they’ll be among the eight teams from the West that will move on to the second season.
“We all know we’re a playoff team. We all know we’re going to make the playoffs. It’s pretty obvious, but we know that we’ve got four more games to play. It’s only one game at a time. Now let’s focus on (Thursday’s opponent, the LA Clippers), and when the Clippers is over, let’s focus on the next one.”