Thunder vs. Jazz: Is the Thunder's First Division Sweep At Hand? (2011-2012 Game 46 Preview)

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (34-11) vs. Utah Jazz (23-22)

Time: 8:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Southwest Plus

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KFNZ (All Sports 1320 KFAN)

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

Previous Meeting(s): Feb. 10, Feb. 14 (Thunder lead series 2-0)

The last two matchups have been blowouts, but the Jazz aren't the same team that we saw in February. They've recovered from their slump, and have been solid in recent weeks, defeating the Heat and Lakers. Scoring has been well-distributed, with solid veterans and developing young players lining the roster side by side. But their success is highly contingent on whether the younger guys (Hayward, Favors, Kanter, Burks) are performing on any given night.

Their problems can vary from night to night. For instance, in our first matchup on February 10th, the Jazz relied too much on Jefferson and Milsap to score in tight spots, and couldn't get consistent production out of them. Then, in our second matchup on February 14th, the Jazz got next to no production from their guards, and were forced to constantly go to Jefferson and Milsap.

However, one thing is clear. Because of the Jazz's reliance on their big men, the Thunder will conversely have to rely on their big men for a lot of the scoring tonight. The Jazz are a good defensive team, and the Thunder can't simply power over them with star play. They'll have to rely on guys like Collison and Perkins for a few key baskets that will put the Thunder over the top. If they don't produce, then this game will go right down to the wire.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Utah Jazz 95

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