The journey has been long enough and strange enough that Quin Snyder jokes he doesn’t remember all the stuff, or all the possessions he has lost with each move. But the Utah Jazz coach has picked up a thing or two along the way.
“Resiliency has been something that I’ve had to learn,” Snyder said. “Hopefully that helps. This is a long season. The playoffs are a long season. There are going to be ups and downs.”
And as the Jazz dig in for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the Clippers, tied at one game apiece, they are missing their star center. So they will lean even more on Snyder, at the helm of an NBA playoff team for the first time, to guide them through to the second round.
Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena will mark the third playoff game of Snyder’s head coaching career.
On the opposite bench, Clippers coach Doc Rivers has more than 150 of them, including an NBA title, on his résumé.
Snyder’s players nevertheless have plenty of faith.
“It doesn’t seem like he’s a rookie coach in the playoffs at all,” forward Gordon Hayward said this week.
The 50-year-old Snyder usually is well-caffeinated and never seems to be short on energy around his players. The guy his players call Coach Q has focused that energy on his X’s and O’s while preparing his team for its ninth meeting with the Clippers since the start of preseason.
“He’s always intense, so it’s hard to go up from what he usually is,” shooting guard Rodney Hood said. “But the preparation is different. A lot more film, a lot more on the scouting report that we go through.”
“Really, the game plans have been unique and special all year,” Hayward said, “and have been a lot of the reasons why we’ve won despite our injuries.”
Can Snyder do it again without the league’s leading shot blocker?
“I’m very confident in him,” said Derrick Favors, who started Game 2 at center with Gobert out. “He’s a smart guy. Real smart coach. He makes adjustments on the fly, and you’ve just got to be ready. I think he’s done a great job so far.”
George Hill, meanwhile, expects the text messages from his coach to come in past midnight.
“He gives us a lot of different ideas of what he’s thinking,” the point guard said.
“He’s one of the smartest coaches I’ve been around,” Hill said.