The biggest thing for me, going through it for the first time, is staying under control and relax and not saying, ‘It’s playoff time, let’s turn it up even more.' —Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY — For several Utah Jazz players, the opening-round series with Oklahoma City will be their first playoff series.
Before taking off Saturday afternoon for Oklahoma, Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell said he’s excited about the playoffs, but he doesn’t want to get out of his usual routine, which includes watching shows on Netflix.
“The biggest thing for me, going through it for the first time, is staying under control and relax and not saying, ‘It’s playoff time, let’s turn it up even more,'” he said. “I think that’s when I start to lose myself and start to play outside of my game. So just staying calm and staying relaxed is the biggest thing for me.”
One of the ways Mitchell stays relaxed is by watching shows on Netflix and avoiding television, where he might get distracted perhaps hearing about himself and the NBA playoffs.
“If you change your off-the-court stuff, it may affect you on the court, that’s how I look at it,” he said. “So I do the same thing, Netflix and watching film, but more film now than Netflix.”
OLD RIVALS: This Utah-Oklahoma City matchup marks the first playoff matchup between the Jazz and Thunder, but it’s not the first playoff matchup between the two franchises.
Before moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, the francise was located in Seattle and nicknamed the Supersonics. The Jazz played them four times in the playoffs, including three times in a five-year span in the early 1990s.
In 1992, the Jazz beat Seattle 4-1 in Western Conference semifinals, but lost3-2 in the first round the following year. In 1996, the Jazz went all the way to the conference finals before losing 90-86 in Game 7 to the Sonics led by Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.
Then in 2000, the Jazz beat Seattle 3-2 in the first round before losing to Portland in the following round.
JAZZ MOST LIKELY TO UPSET: According to NBA experts at ESPN, the Jazz are the most likely team to spring a first-round upset in the playoffs.
Of the 22 ESPN writers polled, nine picked the Jazz over OKC. The next most likely underdog to win is Milwaukee, which was picked by five of the writers to beat Boston.
Houston, Toronto, Portland and Cleveland were all unanimous picks, while one expert picked San Antonio over Golden State and two picked Miami over Philadelphia.
JAZZ NOTES: After a nearly three-hour practice on Friday, the Jazz held a two-hour practice Saturday morning before departing for Oklahoma City . . . The Thunder won the regular-season series with the Jazz 3-1, with Utah’s only win coming in the first game on Oct. 21, 96-87 . . . The Jazz will host games 3 and 4 of the series Saturday and Monday, April 23. If the series goes to six games, the two teams will meet Friday, April 27 at Vivint Arena.