In contrast to the Rockets, who lost Yao to a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot in late February, the Jazz have had no significant injuries. Jazz players lost only 45 games all season to injury, illness or personal absence.
"For the most part, we've had most of the guys here for the whole season," Deron Williams said, "so it's definitely been a big plus for us to have everybody in there and go through it all together."
The Jazz's two biggest stars, Williams and Carlos Boozer , played in 163 out of a possible 164 combined games. The longest any Jazz player was out with a single injury was Mehmet Okur, who missed seven games with a strained left trapezius in December.
"I think coach did a good job of managing our practice time," Boozer said, noting that the Jazz did not practice as much or as hard as in previous seasons. "To have a chance to win in the playoffs, you've got to have your best players out there."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said historically his teams have benefited from good health, noting the 33 combined seasons that Karl Malone and John Stockton played 80-plus games.
Kyle Korver finished fourth in voting for the NBA's Sixth Man Award, which was won by San Antonio's Manu Ginobili. Korver joked that he moved up a spot from last season, when he was fifth in the voting with Philadelphia.
Ginobili received 123 out of 124 first-place votes to finish far ahead of Phoenix's Leandro Barbosa (the 2006-07 winner) and Dallas' Jason Terry. Korver received seven second-place votes and 13 third-place votes for a total of 34 points.
Although he got a taste of the playoffs with the 76ers in 2005, Korver said the experience couldn't be more different this time. The Jazz are a Western Conference contender, in contrast to Philadelphia, which lost to Detroit 4-1.
"There is definitely a different mindset for me right now, just an excitement level," Korver said. "Your first experience in the playoffs, you're excited and every game you go into it wanting to do well.
"I think the situation that this team's in, not being a [No.] 7 or an 8 seed like we were in Philly, feeling like your odds are better, it creates a little more excitement."
Korver said he had to calm himself before Saturday's Game 1, listening to what he described as the "most chill, mellow music" he had on his iPod. He avoided trying to dunk in the pregame layup lines.
"As a shooter, if you come out with just like a crazed attitude," Korver said, "it kind of takes away your rhythm a little bit."