Washington • When the NBA pushed the season start date up by nearly two weeks, there was a collective exhale: The league had been looking to get rid of some of the tougher quirks of the schedule, including teams playing four games in five nights.
But for everything, there’s a tradeoff. And one of the hidden costs, the Utah Jazz (16-24) have come to realize, is paradoxically that while there’s more rest in between games, sometimes there’s less time to practice.
There might have been a time where the space between a Sunday game in Miami and a Wednesday game in Washington would mean some extra time off for players. But the coaching staff leaned in a different direction, holding practices Monday and Tuesday at the University of Miami. The dilemma for Quin Snyder has been trying to figure out other times to do it.
“It makes you nervous as a coach: You see slippage in some areas [when you can’t practice],” Snyder said. “What happened a little bit with the NBA schedule, when you had four in five nights, you at least had two days so you could get a practice in. When you’re playing every other day, you know it’s hard to find time to practice. A lot of times you feel like you need a day of rest. Even if that doesn’t mean a day off completely.”
A combination of injuries and a road-heavy schedule in December left the Jazz few days to actually have a full practice, and on one of the days they were able to, only eight players were available.
Snyder said his first year as a coach, he ran pregame shootarounds more like practices. The Jazz were so young, “we felt like we had so much teaching to do.” With more veterans this year, that intensity has loosened up, but the Jazz still have a lot of rotation players who weren’t playing last year. That sometimes leads to more breakdowns in simple things such as terminology, Snyder said.
Even “no practice” this year hasn’t meant a full day off: The Jazz typically do film and treatment even when they don’t have to suit up for practice, Derrick Favors said. It’s a way of getting mental reps in while keeping the body fresh. And practices are tuned so that some of the most heavily used players don’t get overworked.
“They’ll see how many minutes you’ve been playing over five, 10 games,” Favors said. “Practice kind of dictates that so you don’t bring yourself to the ground. They do a good job. They do stuff I don’t even know about.”
Losing 13 of their last 16 games has seemingly placed a greater burden on the Jazz to iron some things out in practice, hence the sessions in Miami. There’s definitely some evidence that success follows practice: The Jazz are 6-4 with two or more days of rest (during which they’ll typically have a practice), but only 5-15 with one day of rest. Utah is also 5-4 on the second day of back-to-back games.
With six more road games in January, it will continue to be an issue that Snyder will have to juggle. Is it more important to stay fresh, or to refocus your team and stay sharp?
“Traditionally we’ve tapered as the season’s gotten along,” Snyder said. “Invariably you’ll see some things you need to work on. Maybe the priority is there over fatigue. It’s OK to be a little tired if you’re better.”
Tony Bradley rejoins Jazz
Another big man comes back up for Utah as the team heads to the nation’s capital: The Jazz recalled rookie Tony Bradley from the Salt Lake City Stars.
With the move, Bradley has completed his 10th G League assignment. Bradley has played sparingly in his first NBA season, but has been a centerpiece for the Stars. He’s averaging 15.3 ppg and 10.8 rpg in the G League.
The UNC product missed a chance to spend a few days in his native Florida, but could return to North Carolina when the Jazz visit Charlotte. Bradley won a national championship with the Tar Heels last year.
Favors was added to the injury report on Monday as probable (right ankle sprain) for Wednesday’s game against the Wizards. The forward participated in portions of Monday’s and Tuesday’s practices in Miami, according to the team.
Raul Neto (knee/concussion protocol), Rudy Gobert (knee) and Dante Exum (shoulder) are all expected to be out for Wednesday’s game.
JAZZ AT WIZARDS
Capital One Arena, Washington
Tipoff • Wednesday 5 p.m. MST
TV • AT&T Sports Network
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 16-24, Wizards 23-17
Last meeting • Jazz 116, Wizards 69 (Dec. 4, 2017)
About the Wizards • In his last 13 games since returning from injury, John Wall is averaging 16.6 ppg, 8.8 apg and shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor, all down from his season averages. … The Wizards lost their last game against Milwaukee, but are 6-2 in their last eight games. … Washington is No. 1 in the NBA in opponent 3-point percentage, holding other teams to just 33.4 percent shooting beyond the arc.
About the Jazz • Utah’s December win over the Wizards was both the fewest points allowed (69) this season as well as the largest margin of victory (47 points) this season for the franchise. … In their last 15 games (3-12, the Jazz have the No. 29 offensive rating in the league (100.7) and the lowest net rating (minus-10.2). … Donovan Mitchell has the highest usage rate (28.1) on the Jazz, which ranks No. 27 in the NBA and second among rookies (to Dennis Smith Jr.).