Game 65 Preview: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Time: 6 PM

Place: Ford Center

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Enemy Blog(s): SLC Dunk, True Blue Jazz, Salt City Hoops

Backstory: So we had somewhat of a near-late-minute collapse against the lowly Nets ... and now here come the Jazz. With a win tonight the Thunder would move to just a half game behind the Jazz for the fourth seed -- and own the tiebreaker. That makes this game potentially huge for playoff considerations. The Jazz have multiple players out for tonight, so it's as good a night as any to capitalize if we can. Expect the Jazz to realize this and do their best to prevent this from happening.

Below: Matchups, Prediction

In case you missed it, here's a good opportunity to capitalize on some folks being out (source: NewsOK.com):

The Utah Jazz will be missing three players, including two starters, for tonight’s game against the Thunder.

Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who suffered a strained calf Friday night in a loss to Milwaukee, won’t play tonight and will undergo an MRI Monday in Salt Lake City.

Utah Center Mehmet Okur (back) also is out along with guard Ronnie Price, who will miss his second straight game with a sprained wrist. Price also will undergo an MRI on Monday.

The fallout of having Okur and AK out is going to be reflected in the starters ... and bench.

Projected Starters (source: NewsOK.com):

Thunder (40-24)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast
G Russell Westbrook 6-3 16.6 5.2 7.9
G Thabo Sefolosha 6-7 5.8 5.0 1.8
F Kevin Durant 6-9 29.7 7.6 2.8
F Jeff Green 6-9 14.7 6.2 1.5
C Nenad Krstic 7-0 8.2 5.0 0.8
Jazz (42-23)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast
G Deron Williams 6-3 18.5 4.0 10.3
G Wes Matthews 6-5 8.5 2.0 1.3
F C.J. Miles 6-6 9.1 2.2 1.4
F Carlos Boozer 6-9 19.4 11.3 3.3
C Mehmet Okur 6-11 12.9 6.8 1.7

So that's not exactly an accurate list. The reality is going to be far less pretty. With AK out, C.J. Miles gets the fun job of attempting to match up opposite Durant. Good luck with that one. Miles, if you remember, was someone the Thunder tried to snag some time ago. He's no slouch, but pinning your hopes on him to match Durant, or even defend him to a moderate degree -- I wouldn't bet on it. This is where Utah is most going to miss having someone out. Matthews is situated opposite of Thabo, which is just going to put even more pressure on Boozer, Millsap, and Williams to step up and really rack up the points.Stopping Williams is going to be tough, but Westbrook did a decent job last time. With Thabo along to help, it's not going to be nearly as impossible as it might seem at first glance. The interior is where we might have the most trouble here, with Boozer and Millsap capable of bullying over anyone we have inside. Good thing we have more usable, live bodies to throw around then they do tonight. The Utah bench is excellent, but with 3 players out it's going to be pretty thin tonight. Without Ronnie Price, the guess is Sundiata Gaines (or anyone else?) will be inserted to pick up the slack.

All in all, this is going to be a fun game. I'm expecting us to win this one, as there's no excuse not to take control of an important game when the other team is playing short -- particularly at a moderately critical position (SF).

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. Go Thunder!

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