OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Russell Westbrook could have been suspended for Game 5 tonight for leaving the bench during a Game 4 scrum, but the Jazz aren’t giving it much thought.
“That’s a league matter,” head coach Quin Snyder said at this morning’s practice. “We’re just focused on, both teams are focused on the game and competing. I think players on both sides after the game last game understand it’s a playoff game, and they’ve got to get ready to play.”
Nor are the Jazz concerned with the possibility of another brawl-filled battle. They know it’s going to be physical.
“You talk about it to the extent that it’s relevant,” Snyder said. “But some of it, if you give too much life to physicality, then that’s what you’re thinking about as opposed to playing.”
And if things do get out of hand, the Jazz are happy they have Jae Crowder on their side.
“He tried to fight me when he was in Boston,” Joe Ingles joked.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m about,” Crowder said when asked about being an enforcer. “I feel like if I’m spending this much time away from my family, then this is my family. The way I protect my family is just stick up for them no matter what.”
While the Jazz have played very well the last three games, and have outscored the Thunder by 28 points when their Big 3 of Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelon Anthony are on the floor, this series is not over.
“It’s the first to four,” Westbrook said. “That’s all I know, first to four. They’ve got three, we’ve got one. So, first team to four. I have confidence in our group of guys in that locker room like I’ve always had all season long.”
“They’re going to leave it all out there I think,” said Ingles, who has topped the 20-point mark in the last two games. “If we win, it’s done, so they’re not going to want to lose, especially on their home court. They’re going to leave it all out there and put everything they can do into winning this game tonight.”
One of the biggest reasons for the Jazz success is their camaraderie. Is this as close of a team as Ingles has played on?
“That’s a big question because I’ve played with the Australian team,” Ingles said. “The Australian team is always going to be my favorite. I love all these guys, but it’s right up there. It’s as close to that camaraderie as a team that I’ve been on. I would be surprised if there were many other teams that were like that in this league. We love our group, and hopefully we’re together a long time.”
At least until the second round. Tip-off for Game 5 is set for 7:30 p.m.