SALT LAKE CITY — There was hope among Utah Jazz fans that center Rudy Gobert might return for Game 3 of the team’s playoff series against the L.A. Clippers at Vivint Arena on Friday, but that won’t be happening.
Gobert, who has missed all but a few seconds of the series after suffering a bone bruise and hyperextended left knee early in Game 1, has been ruled out for Friday’s game, the Jazz said Thursday.
The team will also be without Alec Burks in Game 3, as Utah announced later Thursday that Burks received a platelet rich plasma injection in his left knee during the day. A timetable for his return is uncertain at the time.
Although head coach Quin Snyder said Gobert is “getting better every day,” there won’t be any special rush to bring the Frenchman back just because it’s the playoffs.
“We’ve been conservative all year in the sense that we’re never going to encourage any player — and in some cases we’ve had to step in — to do something to put himself in a situation by playing that could compromise his long-term health,” Snyder said at his team’s practice on Thursday. “If Rudy plays, then that will be certain he’s not in any danger, that he’s safe. I can assure you of that, him of that.”
Without him on Tuesday in Game 2, Utah gave up a whopping 60 points in the paint. Snyder said some adjustments will be made in Game 3, but conceded that it’s just about impossible to compensate for Gobert’s absence.
“Whatever ‘adjustments’ we make, it’s not going to replicate Rudy,” Snyder said. “There’s things we can do a little bit differently as far as shoring up the paint. I’m not sure that’s going to happen on the level if Rudy did it. That’s a personnel issue. Can we be better? There’s a lot of ways that we can be better.”
Wing Joe Ingles pointed to the need for better perimeter defense to help those playing on the interior.
“We had a few breakdowns that probably isn’t really like us the last 10, 15 games of the year,” he said. “We’d really cleaned a lot of that stuff up. We obviously worked on some stuff today, and I think we’ve got a good game plan.”
Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan has long been at the center of a debate concerning whether or not teams should intentionally foul poor free-throw shooters to prevent them from getting easy baskets at the rim.
During the first two games of the teams’ playoff series, Jordan has averaged 14 points and 15 rebounds. He was particularly impactful in Game 2 without Gobert in the paint for Utah, finishing with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
The 48 percent foul shooter has shot just five free throws over the two contests, going 2-of-2 in Game 1 and 0-of-3 in Game 2.
Will the Jazz employ “Hack-a-Jordan” in Game 3 on Friday?
Snyder said a variety of factors will go into the decision of whether or not to use it, including the bonus situation, the time on the clock, the score and momentum.
“People have spent hours and hours analyzing the ups and the downs of it,” Snyder said. “We’re aware of it and it’s something we consider during the course of the game. It just hasn’t fit the game at this point.”
JAZZ HAIRCUTS2 comments on this story
Thursday marked the day fans could go into a number of barbershops around Salt Lake City and get their hair cut to look like Gordon Hayward’s or Rudy Gobert’s.
Which style would Joe Ingles get if he were going to get a cut?
“I don’t have enough hair to get cut, for starters,” he quipped to reporters. “That’s what Rudy’s going to say. Gordon’s going to say something about my receding hairline. I’m happily married with kids, so I don’t worry. No one here’s got too much hair, either.”