2012-2013 Game 52 Preview: Only Bigs Matter in Thunder-Jazz Showdown

Expect to see many post "battles" tonight. - US PRESSWIRE

The Jazz have been weaker without their perimeter weapons, especially against faster teams like the Kings or Rockets. But their interior presence should keep them competitive with the Thunder.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (38-12)
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The Utah Jazz(28-24)
February 12th, 2013
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
8:00 PM CST
Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain Plus
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), Fox Sports Radio (97.5)
Enemy Blogs: SLC Dunk, Salt City Hoops
Previous Meetings: Nov 30th (Thunder Lead Season Series 1-0)
Injury Report: Gordon Hayward (Doubtful), Mo Williams (Out)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Jamaal Tinsley
Thabo Sefolosha SG Randy Foye
Kevin Durant SF Marvin Williams
Serge Ibaka PF Paul Millsap
Kendrick Perkins C Al Jefferson

The Jazz are a resilient team with a quality roster. They focus on the interior aspect of their game and have an insane amount of depth in that position. As such, they rely a lot on getting to the line, offensive rebounding, and penetration defense as their calling cards in order to help them win. But when the few weapons they have on the perimeter start to disappear, the team weakens as a whole. Mo Williams has been out for a while now, but the additional loss of Gordon Hayward has left them susceptible to certain teams. A 4-4 post-Hayward record doesn't look that bad on the surface, but when you consider that they got creamed by the fast-breaking Kings and Rockets, you can understand where their weaknesses lie.

A fully fledged Jazz roster was able to keep things competitive back in November, and Hayward and Williams definitely played a major role in that game. But where the team really made their mark was in the post, grabbing 5 more offensive rebounds than the Thunder despite losing by 11. Moreover, their bench was able to make some positive impact on the back of Enes Kanter, who dominated the Thunder's bench bigs.

Thus, I think that the Jazz will be able to play a semi-competitive game tonight. The Thunder bigs have been great about defensively closing down the paint lately, but the Jazz provide what some would consider to be the strongest front line in the league, and something's gotta give. And you can't forget about the advantage they have in terms of bench play. Also, their guards, while being limited, can hold their own defensively, a trait that's often underrated.

But in the end, I don't think the Jazz will be able to pull this one out. If they can get a couple of perimeter weapons going or get a Thunder starter in foul trouble, I can see them doing it. But, as I always like to say, that's easier said than done. Expect the Thunder to pull away late when the interior defense buckles down and gets serious.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Utah Jazz 99.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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