Question and answers from the Jazz's pre-Portland shootaround on Thursday morning at EnergySolutions Arena:
-- Gordon Hayward will experience his first NBA playoff game Sunday night, when eighth-seeded Utah faces top-seeded San Antonio. The Jazz are huge underdogs in the best-of-seven series, but Hayward said, "For us, we're just going to compete and play hard. We've proven we can beat the best teams if we do things our way, so that's what we're going to have to do. ... It's going to be exciting. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a challenge. It gives us a chance to shock the world. So we have to be ready for it."
-- Asked about Utah's first-round match-up against red-hot San Antonio, which has won 20 of its last 22 games, coach Tyrone Corbin said, "They are a very experienced team. They are playing very well right now. It's going to be a great challenge for us. But you know what? We're going to get through the Portland game tonight and get ready for our next opponent. The Spurs are a great challenge, but we'll be ready for it."
-- What does Corbin hope to accomplish in the regular-season against the Trail Blazers: "Just continue to grow -- get an opportunity to get some more guys on the floor. Get some guys a little rest. We want to make sure we stay in our 'play' mode. So we are going to start the same [line-up]. But then we'll sit some guys down."
-- Asked if the Jazz might be able to surprise the Spurs by using a recently-effective big frontcourt of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors, Corbin smiled and said, "Everybody has film and has guys scouting. So it won't be a surprise to them. But for us, it gives us an opportunity to be bigger and rebound and, defensively, we've had some success with it. So we expect that to continue. It's something we'll use."
-- Does the fact the top-seeded Spurs lost to No. 8 Memphis last year in the first round give the Jazz hope this season? "I'm sure they will have their antenna up," Corbin said. "They were one of the best teams last year -- with the best record -- and lost in the first round. So there won't be any letdowns there. They are going to be ready and we have to be ready. We have to make sure, after tonight, that we get ourselves ready to compete because they have the experience of last year. They have a veteran ball club and a very proud group of guys."
-- Millsap likes the Jazz big line-up: "On the offensive end, it creates mismatches for everyone. On the defensive end, you've got me out there roaming, trying to get my hand on the basketball, and we've got two shot-blockers down the middle. So we've got the best of both worlds on the defensive end."
-- Asked about reaching the playoffs for the 25th time in franchise history, Millsap said, "Great, man. I feel like we accomplished something big. ... People picked us last in the West and that was kind of a slap in our face. We've got some older guys -- veteran guys -- who can play and we've got some younger guys that can play. You put that together and we make a hell of a team."
-- Steve Luhm
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