When the Utah Trail Blazers were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs last season, they had a couple of things going for them: They had just won their second straight title, and they were one of the most decorated teams in the league.
But in the aftermath of that loss, many fans wondered if their franchise was ready to return to the postseason, given the circumstances that led to it.
Utah, of course, was not ready to make that comeback.
They were just 4-8 the year before.
Their offense had struggled.
The defense had been dreadful.
And the team’s star power — including a star forward — had faded in the face of injuries to key players.
So, after a season in which their fans booed the team for not having enough stars to lead them to the title, many were concerned that Utah would miss the playoffs this time around.
That’s when the Jazz decided to change their strategy, according to a source familiar with the team.
They decided to focus on winning basketball games, and instead of letting the losses affect their season, coach Quin Snyder said they were trying to be more focused on winning games.
In order to accomplish that, the Jazz started putting a lot of emphasis on the way they played and the way that they played in the playoffs.
The focus was on winning, and the players got better at it.
And while some of those changes worked for Utah in the regular season, that focus in the postseason made it far more difficult to execute those strategies.
“I think we were more focused, and that led us to be better at basketball in the Finals,” Jazz forward Gordon Hayward told reporters this week.
“It was a more focused effort.
I think we did a lot better in the conference finals, too, where we had the chance to win the championship.
But, we’re not satisfied.
We’re not done.
We’ve got to continue to win basketball games.”
Utah finished the regular-season tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the best record in the Western Conference, and won five of their six games in the series.
They were just one of four teams to advance beyond the first round, but their focus was not to finish the regular seasons with a whimper.
The Jazz were also working on a more streamlined approach to the playoffs, as the team put the playoffs under a different spotlight than they had in the first half of the season.
The Jazz were coming off of a season when they lost eight straight and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
They also were a team that was struggling in the offseason, with some of the biggest free-agent signings coming on the heels of the trade deadline, which meant some players were already coming off the books.
But the team did everything in its power to make sure that those changes would not negatively affect the team this time.
In a way, the changes were a relief for many Jazz fans, especially those who were frustrated by the team losing so many key players and the team missing the playoffs after so much of the year.
They felt the team was getting better and better every game, and it seemed that this time the team would be able to finish off the regular schedule in style.
The changes were also a way to help build momentum heading into the playoffs in a way that would allow the Jazz to play at a higher level.
The change was made even more important because the Jazz were still the team that had a lot to prove in the second half of last season.
With a few more wins in the West finals and another championship in sight, the organization was ready for a second chance.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much of a positive the changes had on the team, but it was evident by the way the team went about their business that the team had the same focus.
“When you get a year like that, you realize that we’re getting better all the time, and we’re trying to figure out how to get better,” Hayward said.
“And I think that was the difference, that we were just focused on getting better.
I thought that last year was just a little bit of an adjustment. “
The players have become a lot more mature.
I thought that last year was just a little bit of an adjustment.
We were trying a lot harder to be aggressive.
We weren’t able to do that in the preseason, so I think there was a bit of a learning curve.
But I think the more we play together, and more we work together, I think it’s going to help.”
There were some changes in the team before the playoffs started.
After a few years of losing, the Utah starters started playing better, with Hayward, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Derrick Favored all playing at a high level.
This was a team with some very young players coming into their own, and now it was going to be the Jazz that were getting those minutes.
The team’s coaching staff was