For the first time since 2010, the Utah Jazz have won a playoff series. They beat the Clippers, 104-91, in Game 7 of their first-round series on Sunday and will face Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals. Game 1 is Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
“Well, it’s something that the Jazz have been building here for the last six or seven years,” Jazz analyst Ron Boone said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Gordon Hayward gets here and they get a chance to go to the playoffs, but he wasn’t really the star then. It was Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. So now the Jazz have been building this team up to this point. But what I think is so impressive and exciting about this is they won it on the road. They won three ball games on the road in Los Angels in order to get this victory. I think that’s something special for a team like this knowing that they can win on the road, first of all, but just showing that they have some fight and they wasn’t willing to give up.”
Hayward averaged 23.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists against the Clippers and scored 26 points in Game 7.
“Watching him develop over the years, watching him practice, knowing how hard he’s worked to try to be great in this league – he’s really been working hard because he wants to be that kind of a player,” Boone said. “If you remember his game a couple of years ago, he was developing, coming into his own as far as a player, but he was a little soft. Now he’s a little more physical. He’s learning how to be a professional basketball player.”
When fans think of stars in the West, they probably think of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but they might not think of Hayward.
Well, they should.
“Gordon’s there,” Boone said. “He made the All-Star team this year. He’s gained a lot of respect around the league for being the type of player that he is, so hopefully he can continue to make progress and eventually get his due as far as the league is concerned. But the Jazz are going to have to win.”
Quin Snyder, meanwhile, has led the Jazz from 38 wins to 40 wins to 51 wins. Now he has them in the second round of the playoffs.
“He came here with a pretty good resume,” Boone said. “He came here and inherited a basketball team that had a lot to learn. There’s so many young players now coming into the league that don’t know how to play basketball. They have so much talent. They can do a lot of things with the ball, without the basketball. So Quin’s first couple of years here, he did more teaching, and I think it kind of held him back as far as coaching the team. Then he brings in the the three veterans. This is the first year I’ve really seen him concentrate on coaching, the adjustments that needed to be made. It was fun to watch practice sometimes. He just adds things and takes things out. He’s so thorough. I would imagine he doesn’t sleep at night. Believe me, when he comes to practice, he is wired and ready to go. If you watch practice at the beginning of the year to the end of the year, practices are so smooth at this time of year that players fit right in. They know exactly what needs to be done.”