Look for a new lineup Monday night when the Jazz start Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.
Trailing 0-3 and facing elimination, Utah is expected to feature a frontcourt trio of Paul Millsap (at small forward), Derrick Favors (at power forward) and Al Jefferson (at center).
Millsap had been starting at power forward, with veteran Josh Howard starting at small forward.
Coach Tyrone Corbin made the announcement following Monday morning’s shootaround at EnergySolutions Arena.
“We’ll probably go bigger,” he said. “We’ll probably go with the big lineup to start the game. So, we’ll see.”
Corbin often used that so called “big lineup” late in the season as the Jazz made a push to earn the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. Although not the only reason, the trio of Millsap, Favors and Jefferson helped the Jazz win their last five regular-season contests, and seven of their last nine.
“It’s been good for us in the past,” Corbin said. “We’ll see if we can force our will on (the Spurs) instead of us making all the adjustments to them. We want still run our offense and see if we can get the ball inside a little bit more.”
The Jazz had been among the NBA’s leaders in points-in-the-paint scoring. However, against the Spurs are have been getting outscored 170-108 around the basket.
The key member of the frontcourt now becomes Favors, who had been coming off the bench. A bright spot in an otherwise dismal playoff series, the 20-year-old has played with force and fearlessness against the vaunted Spurs.
On Sunday, Corbin said he wanted to get Favors even more playing time and noted his competitiveness and disdain for losing. Even then Corbin hinted at a possible lineup change.
“His competitive nature, the desire and his curve for learning has shortened,” Corbin said. “He’s learning on the fly and he’s wanting to get better every night he steps on the floor. His determination and desire to win and compete is really showing now.”
Corbin said even though the Jazz as a team have not had success against the Spurs, Favors has demonstrated he has “that other level in him.”
“(Starting) makes me want to play hard (and to) go out there and try to get a win,” said Favors, who is averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in the series.
Friend and teammate Gordon Hayward said Hayward is quiet person, but fiercely competitive.
“He doesn’t get all emotional or anything but he sure does get fired up on the inside,” he said. “He hates when someone makes a play on him or makes a play on us as a team. It really does fire him up, even if he doesn’t show it.”