HOUSTON — Since only 11 teams have overcome 3-1 deficits in the NBA playoffs, and since the Jazz are struggling with injuries, I thought this would be a proper (last?) place to take a positive approach.
I’ll begin with an inspiring quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ”
That’s fine for her.
She never faced the Houston Rockets in an elimination game.
Still, I think there’s a pathway for the Jazz. Here are a few ideas on how to turn Tuesday’s game at the Toyota Center into a win:
• Cause a commotion. Video of a Jazz fan at the Toyota Center, hassling James Harden, went viral last week. Whatever works. Charles Oakley made a nice career of causing disturbances. Getting inside a team’s head is a great way to get a win.
• Order out. An online ad says a Houston mobile catering service called Ribs on Wheels delivers “ribs falling off the bone” and is “some of the best BBQ in Houston.”
There’s not a person in this city of 6 million that could resist a plate of ribs at game time. Including the Rockets.
• Begin launch sequence. Nothing resonates in the Bayou City like a rocket launch. Simply announce over the sound system, “Launch begins in 10 9 8 ”
Everyone will rush outdoors to watch.
• Call all plays in foreign languages. The Jazz have players from France, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. (If you don’t think Australian is a foreign language, ask someone what fair dinkum means.) This will confuse the Rockets and provide the Jazz an element of surprise.
• Challenge the Rockets to a winner-takes-all geography test. This could be close. While the Jazz have seven foreign players, the Rockets are no slouches when it comes to international flavor. They have players from Switzerland, Cameroon, Brazil, China and Texas. Yes, Texas.
• Declare themselves neutral. Sweden (Jonas Jerebko) and Switzerland (Thabo Sefolosha) are neutral countries. Maybe Houston will just leave the Jazz alone.
• Sing Lyle Lovett songs until they go mad. “It Ought to be Easier” might be a good place to start.
• Make themselves at home. That’s what Houston native Randy Quaid did in “Christmas Vacation” as Uncle Eddie. Surprise visitors can cause all kinds of problems. You serious, Clark?
• Get Chris Paul ejected. The veteran star might not be susceptible to this, but his brother was momentarily removed from Game 4 in Salt Lake when security mistook him for someone using profanity. A good approach might be to curse at the ref and point at Paul: “It was him!”
• Offer Joe Johnson a one-day contract. So far he’s played only four minutes against the Jazz in the postseason. But last year he was a killer with the Jazz in the playoffs. Joe doesn’t have his old game, but maybe all he needs is a cause.
• Buddy up. Injured guard Sefolosha and Houston’s Clint Capela are Swiss-born. Raul Neto and Houston’s Nene are Brazilian. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey spent 11 seasons in the Rockets’ organization. What are friends for, if not favors?
• Take flight. Despite Houston’s fabled aerospace history, when the shuttles were retired, one went to New York, one to Virginia, one to Florida and one to California. Needling Houston about the shuttles is sure to leave a mark.
• Be prepared. Salt Lake has the Wasatch Fault, but Houston is smack on the Long Point-Eureka Heights line. How about this: Utah gives them pointers on securing their water heaters and Houston gives the Jazz tips on containing James Harden.
All the above suggestions might seem unlikely ways to win a playoff series. But they’re as good as any to look fear in the face.