SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After a perfect 5-0 preseason, Utah Jazz can’t wait to tip it off for real Wednesday night.
“It feels like a long preseason even though it really wasn’t that long,” said forward Joe Ingles. “But we’re ready to get going. We’re mentally ready, we’re physically ready, we’re obviously healthy and ready to go.”
“Obviously we’re ready for the season to start,” added leading scorer Donovan Mitchell. “I think the main thing is it counts now. You can say we’re 5-0, but I think we played our best basketball that last game.”
That last game was a 39-point win over the Sacramento Kings, which just so happens to be the same team they play in the season opener. But the Jazz expect a much tougher game tomorrow.
“The only thing we can take away is the way we played,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to come with that same type of fire. They’re going to come back and be a different team.”
Just comparing where they were at this point last year to now is a completely new level.
“There was a lot of uncertainty last year,” Mitchell said. “We don’t know what the hell to expect to be honest. I think it was like that for everybody. Obviously losing Gordon was tough, and we had six or seven new guys who were trying to learn the offense. Now it’s a lot easier for us to come in with the expectations and knowing what we need to do.”
With high expectations come other team’s best shots. The Jazz know they will have a target on their backs all year long.
“We know we’re going to be scouted,” Ingles said. “Donovan is going to be scouted better, or more I should say. It’s just the way it is as you progress through the years and years in the league.”
But the Jazz refuse to get caught up in what other people are saying about them.
“The same people that have us on the radar were the same people that didn’t have us on the radar last year,” Mitchell said. “We’re the same team that people overlooked, and we have the same mindset and same character. The only difference now is we play on TV a little bit more.”