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Quarantine, coffee and Call of Duty: Utah Jazz trying to make themselves at home in Orlando

by Aaron Falk

ORLANDO — On a typical road trip, Joe Ingles and a few teammates might go for a walk, stretch their legs and search out the best cup of coffee near their hotel. But with the NBA setting up camp inside this basketball bubble for the next three months, Ingles — the Utah Jazz’s most caffeinated player — made sure to pack his own machine and a supply of beans from his favorite coffee shop back in Salt Lake City.

If you’re going to call the NBA campus home for the next few months, you might as well bring a little bit of home with you.

“This whole thing is about who’s going to adjust quickest and not make excuses and get out there and make do with what you’ve got,” said Jazz point guard Mike Conley.

Golf is one of the league-sanctioned activities inside the bubble and so Conley, an avid golfer, packed his clubs. He’s also one of several Jazzmen who made sure to bring his own gaming system, which got plenty of use during the mandated 36-hour quarantine period upon arrival.

“We got tested and went straight to our rooms for 36 hours of isolation,” Conley said. “It was different but guys made it through. We stayed on the video games and hung out that way.”

Count all-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert among the players who plan to pass the time gaming.

“Obviously staying in the room for 36 hours is not the best thing; we’re not used to it,” Gobert said. “I played some Call of Duty, read a little bit, slept.”

There were cheers in the hallway of the team's hotel about 2:30 p.m. Thursday when players were released from their mandated quarantine. The team was promptly tested for the third time since arriving in Florida on Tuesday evening. The Jazz then convened for a team meeting and their first practice as a full squad since March.

With two days to sit in his room and strategize, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said he tried not to overthink every detail of the season’s restart as he looked out of his hotel window onto an empty parking lot. That mindset showed early in the team’s first practice.

“The first 10-15 minutes was just hooping,” Conley said. “Coach let us go out there and go body-to-body and get physical, something we haven’t been able to do for a long time. There’s a little rust here and there but guys had great energy. Everybody came back in shape. Nobody had their hands on their knees.”

Gobert also felt back at home on the court.

“It felt great to be back out there,” he said. “I felt like everyone was really locked in. Everything was really positive and we just went right through it. It was a long practice, but Coach did a great job of making sure we get our good habits back on point. It’s going to be a process but I really like the mindset we have here.”

Keeping that positive mindset on and off the court will be key to success in Orlando. So players here are trying to make themselves feel more at home off the court, too.

Jazz sixth man Jordan Clarkson has already decorated his room with some of his favorite figurines.  Mitchell said he wanted to be sure to bring a nice bottle of wine. And Gobert packed an oil diffuser for the hotel room he will call home for the foreseeable future.

“For us, we have to think of it as a summer house,” Conley said.

The Utah Jazz's Road to Orlando is presented by University of Utah Health.

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