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‘Inexperienced’ Quin Snyder has shown his coaching skills in playoffs

First Published      Last Updated Jul 07 2017 05:00 pm

Through two games, Quin Snyder isn’t coaching like a playoff rookie.

He has gone from wunderkind coach to couch-crasher. From sharing practice space with the homeless in Austin, Texas, to the lavishness of Los Angeles and the NBA. Then, as soon as he was sitting next to Kobe Bryant, he upped and moved closer to the Kremlin.

The journey has been long enough and strange enough that Quin Snyder jokes he doesn't remember all the stuff, or all the possessions he has lost with each move. But the Utah Jazz coach has picked up a thing or two along the way.

"Resiliency has been something that I've had to learn," Snyder said. "Hopefully that helps. This is a long season. The playoffs are a long season. There are going to be ups and downs."

And as the Jazz dig in for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Clippers, tied at one game apiece, they are missing their star center. So they will lean even more on Snyder, at the helm of an NBA playoff team for the first time, to guide them through to the second round.

Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena will mark the third playoff game of Snyder's head coaching career.

On the opposite bench, Clippers coach Doc Rivers has more than 150 of them, including an NBA title, on his résumé.

Snyder's players nevertheless have plenty of faith.

"It doesn't seem like he's a rookie coach in the playoffs at all," forward Gordon Hayward said this week.

The Jazz credited Snyder and his coaching staff for putting them in position to win Game 1 of the series, identifying during a late timeout that they could create a mismatch with L.A.'s Jamal Crawford if they didn't call timeout in the game's final seconds and give the Clippers a chance to make a substitution. The end result: forward Joe Johnson got a switch onto Crawford and exploited him for the game-winning bucket.

"He's a guy that we've leaned on at the end of games, putting us in spots where we can be effective," Hayward said.

The 50-year-old Snyder usually is well-caffeinated and never seems to be short on energy around his players. The guy his players call Coach Q has focused that energy on his X's and O's while preparing his team for its ninth meeting with the Clippers since the start of preseason.

"He's always intense, so it's hard to go up from what he usually is," shooting guard Rodney Hood said. "But the preparation is different. A lot more film, a lot more on the scouting report that we go through."

Snyder's adjustments in Game 2 came a little too late. The Clippers jumped on the Jazz early and rode their first-quarter advantage to a 99-91 victory. The Jazz will need a reworked strategy to keep L.A. out of the paint with center Rudy Gobert out for another game with a left knee injury.

Snyder helped guide the Jazz to 51 wins in the regular season, despite a litany of injuries at nearly every position.

"Really, the game plans have been unique and special all year," Hayward said, "and have been a lot of the reasons why we've won despite our injuries."

Can Snyder do it again without the league's leading shot blocker?

"I'm very confident in him," said Derrick Favors, who started Game 2 at center with Gobert out. "He's a smart guy. Real smart coach. He makes adjustments on the fly, and you've just got to be ready. I think he's done a great job so far."

Favors has seen Snyder's mind at work. He has been talking to his coach when Snyder has stopped, drawn up a play on the wall in his office then picked the conversation right back up.

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Quin Snyder’s coaching journey

1992-93 » Los Angeles Clippers assistant

1993-99 » Duke University assistant

1999-2006 » University of Missouri coach

2007-10 » Austin Toros coach (D-League)

2010-11 » Philadelphia 76ers assistant

2011-12 » Los Angeles Lakers assistant

2012-13 » CSKA Moscow assistant

2013-14 » Atlanta Hawks assistant

2014-present » Utah Jazz coach