Well, enough of that.
The Jazz appear to be on a first-round collision course with the Clippers and, suddenly, that matchup looks a little less daunting after Monday night's 114-108 victory.
"We've struggled a little bit against them," Jazz forward Joe Ingles said. "Last game here, they came out and kind of punched us and we let it happen. I think the guys were ready this time. We obviously know what's at stake with potentially playing them again."
The Jazz are 42-25 this season, putting them two games ahead of the fifth-place Clippers, 4.5 games ahead the sixth-place Oklahoma City Thunder and four games back of the third-place Houston Rockets.
The Jazz have played those three teams in succession over the past week, and they now have an even better understanding of how they might stack up against their three most likely first-round foes.
If the Jazz slide — and they have a more difficult remaining schedule than either the Clippers or Thunder — a matchup with the Rockets could be interesting. The Jazz have beaten Houston twice this season. And while James Harden is putting up MVP numbers, Utah's plodding pace and stingy defense might be able to grind down the Rockets over the course of a series.
If the Thunder manage to leapfrog the Clippers, Quin Snyder will have to come up with an answer for Russell Westbrook. Utah's third-ranked defense depends heavily on getting back in transition, getting set and forcing their opponent to work in the half court. As Thunder coach Billy Donovan said this week, "We have the best transition player in the world on our team," and he certainly has given the Jazz problems this season.
The odds, however, favor a Jazz-Clips showdown in April. The number crunchers over at fivethirtyeight.com project the two teams to finish with 50 wins apiece, taking fourth and fifth in the Western Conference.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers already is planning to send a scout to shadow the Jazz.
"I know statistically there's a great chance we're going to play them, so we start watching them more," the coach said. "They're watching us more. In about five games, we'll send someone to just travel with them. They should allow him on the plane; he's going to go to every game. That's what they'll do back."
The Jazz have other plane rides to deal with first, of course. They begin a four-game road trip to the east Wednesday, when they take on the Detroit Pistons.
"We'll have our hands full," Hayward said. "But I'm glad that we're going out there after a win like tonight. I think that gives you a little bit of confidence. It definitely makes you feel better on those long flights out east."
Perhaps along the way they'll find time to look for ways to slow down Chris Paul. The Clippers' point guard can give anyone fits, and the nine-time all-star showed why he would be a tough matchup — even for a healthy George Hill — by scoring 33 points against the Jazz on Monday.