It’s harder because Utah’s a great defensive team to begin with, so scoring is going to be at premium for either team. —Clippers head coach Doc Rivers
SALT LAKE CITY — As far as number of playoff games coached, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has the edge over Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder by a landslide. Rivers has been roaming the sidelines for 154 games, Snyder has just two games of playoff experience under his belt.
So with all that playoff experience, coupled with 1,388 regular-season contests, Rivers knows a thing or two about the different between winning in the playoffs and winning in the regular season.
“It’s harder because you’re familiar with each other. It makes it harder to score, it makes it harder to game plan,” said Rivers, who has won 51.3 percent of his playoff matchups, in a teleconference this week.
“It’s harder because Utah’s a great defensive team to begin with, so scoring is going to be at premium for either team.”
But what about Utah’s home-court advantage, which will be filled with “complete homers,” as Chris Paul stated in his postgame interview following the Clippers’ 99-91 win on Tuesday.
“Well, the environment doesn’t affect us. The crowd’s going to be great, it’s going to be loud, and there’s nothing you can do about that, you know that going in. But that shouldn’t affect how you play. You've just got to have great focus and trust whatever the game plan is and show up and play.”
While away from home, the Jazz seem to have pestered at least two Clippers. Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick, two of the Clippers’ most dangerous scorers, have mostly been held in check this series. Crawford, who averaged 12.3 points per game during the regular season, has been held to 9.0 points per game in the series. Redick, who dumped in 15.0 points per game in the regular season, has really been stymied in the playoffs and is averaging just 5.5 points in two games against the Jazz.
Despite those major drop-offs, Rivers isn’t overly troubled about finding ways to get those two involved on the offense.
“We’d like to find more ways, but we don’t want to force it. I thought J.J.’s value was being on the floor and his movement, there’s a lot of good things that he did.”
Rivers does have concerns about Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, on whom he has stated he has a “man-crush.” This series, Hayward has been guarded primarily by Luc Mbah a Moute, the Clippers’ defensive specialist.
“Luc’s been great,” said Rivers. “Hayward’s a tough guy to defend, he can do everything. First of all, he’s one of the stronger guys at his position, he shoots the three well, he attacks the basket.
“You really can’t shade him left or right, he goes either way pretty effectively,” continued Rivers. “So he’s just a tough guy to match up to. With Luc, Luc’s just a great defender. I think Luc’s done a good job. With Hayward, every moment you never stop. You just got to show up each night and tune in that game and that individual play and be ready to play him.”
Mbah a Moute has held Hayward to 19.5 points per game, a notch below his season scoring average of 22.9.