Jazz lose Gobert early in playoff opener

Posted April 18, 2017

The NBA playoffs open on Saturday with the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz meeting in the postseason for the first time in 20 years. Gobert was setting a pick for Hayward when he and Mbah a Moute collided. Luc Mbah a Moute banged knees with Gobert as he was fighting over a screen, and Gobert was diagnosed with a left knee strain. However, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, there is no timetable for Gobert to return against the Clips. Losing this series might finally show Steve Ballmer this team needs a completely new direction. The Jazz may have lacked the talent, but they had an overwhelmingly amount of heart.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points, and Serge Ibaka had 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Instead of wilting under the pressure, the Jazz rallied together, thanks to 16-year veteran Joe Johnson.

Rivers sat behind the Clippers' bench during Game 1 against the Utah Jazz in a navy suit.

"Well you know, when Joe makes the shot, it always makes the coach look smart", said Snyder, who refused to call a timeout after Paul's shot. What's lost for the moment is the opportunity to see how Gobert would have performed in his first playoffs and how that showing may have shaped the Jazz's future. Maybe he's saving some bounce for the playoffs, but maybe he just had one too many knee surgeries.

That will be a big order as long as Gobert is injured.

Meanwhile, playing just one backup point guard has been a rarity for the Jazz in recent weeks but Shelvin Mack was the only one to get the nod from Snyder on Saturday, with Dante Exum yet to experience his first playoff game.

This was against a Los Angeles team supposedly taking a step toward contention this season.

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Still, the Jazz are no strangers to dealing with freak injuries.

D'Antoni has been drilling those numbers into his players' heads for weeks, bringing it up repeatedly as soon as it looked like the Rockets would draw the Thunder in the first round.

They're all coached by Doc Rivers, a former All-Star point guard known for his competitive natural who took the occasion of this series opening to announce he has a "man crush" on Gordon Hayward, the star of the Jazz. He led the National Basketball Association in Defensive Win Shares (6.0), ranked third in overall Defensive Rating (99.2), 10th in Offensive Win Shares (8.3, ahead of Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo, to give you some perspective) and 13th in Box Plus/Minus (5.9). Relying on Favors for heavy minutes is a dicey proposition, considering his own personal injury ailments he has faced this season. "I'm seeing all these other guys play tonight, Game 1 and I'm really anxious right now so I can only do so much".

I'm not one of those people, since I always see the basket as almost half-full, which, no, is not another joke about DeAndre Jordan's career 43-percent free-throw shooting. "We've got to worry about us; know what I mean?"

On paper, without Gobert, the Clippers should have crushed the Jazz at home, instead, especially in the paint, but they only narrowly held the edge 42-40, and trailed for most of the second half.

The Jazz were dealt a blow before either team had settled into the game.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love had 17 for Cleveland, which has won 12 straight playoff games at home.