This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 8 PM Central Standard Time
Place: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Utah
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Backstory: Well, after one hell of a road trip, it is certainly great to be back in my own bed. But, more importantly, it's great to be writing about the Thunder again. So, what did they do while I was gone? Well, they rightfully trounced the Wizards, and got stomped by the Lakers in Los Angeles. This, all in all, makes for a 7-7 .500 record that the Thunder can't seem to stray away from, one way or the other.
Meanwhile, the team we're playing, the Utah Jazz, seems to be in a similar boat. They've been flirting from staying at okay to becoming good for years now, suffering minor injuries and while beating some opponents badly and losing to other opponents equally badly. It's a team that works well against some and badly against others.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
A matchup of two clones if there ever was one. Unfortunately, Okur is a bit more well rounded, so he's expected to win this matchup handily if he does play. But, if Fesenko plays, expect Krstic to have a field day.
Jeff Greens continuing quest to remain the #2 guy on the Thunder doesn't get any easier against one of the leagues top 5 power forwards, Carlos Boozer. He'll have another down day, but hopefully he can cause some problems from Boozer inside, because Nenad Krstic certainly won't.
Ronnie Brewer was a nice pick at 14, but he's still just a shadow compared to Kevin Durant. He's not an exploitable matchups, but one that should allow for a good Durant performance nonetheless.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Wesley Matthews
Wait....who is Wesley Matthews? Does he play in the NFL or something? Apparently, he's some undrafted rookie. The Jazz are pretty thin at Shooting Guard, I see. He'll obviously be shut down by Thabo, but the bigger question is whether Thabo can use his weak opponent to springboard him into a great offensive night. It's raining 3s!
Daron Williams is one of the best point guards in the league, and a huge reason for the success of the Jazz. I really doubt Westbrook will have a great night tonight if he tries to score too much. Rather, he should focus on distribution, and if he does that, he should be fine.
Battle of the Benches:
The Jazz have the Thunder easily beat here. Kirilenko and Millsap beat us almost automatically. If Kirilenko can come off the bench and be effective defensively, it will be a huge damper in the Thunder's offensive efforts.
Coaching and Intangibles:
The Jazz have the longest tenured coach in the NBA, are at home, and have been 4-1 over the last 5 games, with wins in the last 3 without Mehmet Okur. That's nothing to sneeze at, especially considering we're coming off of a Lakers pounding.
The Jazz are a good team, but they are one with weaknesses. If Okur doesn't play or plays badly, they'll be really weak inside, and their lack of swingman talent can pen huge doors for Durant and Sefolosha. As long as Williams and Boozer can be held in check, the Thunder can win this game.
Prediction: Thunder 89, Jazz 86
A close victory. A lot of this is banking on lack of Okur, but I'm confident the Thunder can rebound after a nasty loss against LA.
How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I might be here during the game to drop my thoughts as well. Go Thunder!