The Jazz have trumpeted that they’ve been in playoff games for weeks.
“This is definitely the playoffs before the playoffs,” Paul Millsap said.
But while games against Portland, Golden State and others merely felt like postseason games, Tuesday’s against the Thunder may have been a first-round preview.
If the Jazz make the playoffs, it will be as the eighth seed, and entering Tuesday’s matchup, the Thunder were one game behind the San Antonio Spurs for No. 1.
Would a seven-game series against the Thunder be attractive to the Jazz?
“We feel like we match up pretty well against them,” Millsap said. “… We feel like we’ve got the advantage down low.”
Told about Millsap’s assertion, Thunder star Kevin Durant said, “He said that? I mean, if he feels that way, then cool.”
The Jazz and Thunder have never played in the postseason, at least not since the franchise moved from Seattle to the Sooner State before the 2008 season.
Not that the Jazz, with three games to play, are already looking ahead to a postseason opponent.
“I’m trying to get there first,” Al Jefferson said. “I don’t like jumping ahead of myself; we’re just trying to get in the playoffs first and we’ll be happy to face against anybody. From the Thunder to San Antonio, it really doesn’t matter as long as we’re in that fight.”
The chippy Durant-DeMarre Carroll rivalry under the brightest lights, the Jazz trying to slow Russell Westbrook and Durant, two goodfront courts.
“It would be a fun matchup,” Durant said, “because our bigs enjoy playing against them, because it’s a tough physical game so it would be pretty cool.”
And, no, in the end the NBA’s scoring leader wasn’t terribly offended that Millsap endorsed his frontcourt in the matchup.
“They’ve got two tough bigs that start and two tough bigs, young guys, that come off the bench,” Durant said. “So I could see why they have confidence in them.”
The Jazz’s Junkyard Dog may have an item for, well, a junkyard. Monday night at Life Time Fitness in South Jordan, Carroll said he broke the rim on a basket. He posted a photo to Twitter of himself holding the rim.
But this wasn’t quite a Darryl Dawkins backboard-buster. The rim was already loose from repeated jams by he and Jeremy Evans, he said.
“It was coming down already and I just went up and took it,” Carroll said. “I actually took it home. They let me take it home.”
Carroll said he gave the hoop “the last yank and I got it.” Tuesday morning he said the rim was in his trunk — in case he needed proof — but that he may not be keeping it for too long.
“I might sign it,” he said, “and put it up for auction for the Utah Jazz, for the Larry Miller Foundation.”
Williams sent home
Marvin Williams went from doubtful Tuesday to expected to play against Oklahoma City. But before tip off, Williams, who missed Monday practice due to a stomach flu, went home sick.
In addition to Williams, Jazz guard Alec Burks missed his second straight game due to a sprained left ankle.
It was the eighth game in which Williams was inactive this season, his first with the Jazz. Previously he missed three games with concussion-like symptoms and four with right knee inflammation. He sat out Friday’s win over New Orleans due to tendinitis in his right heel, but was in uniform and available to play.