2013-2014 Game 73 Preview: Thunder prepare to Turn Off the Jazz

That's some big 'ol D - Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Get 'em outta here and give them their pick, already!

2013-2014 NBA Season
Jazz_medium
@
Thunder_medium_medium
23-50
Lost 3

53-19
Won 1
March 30th, 2014
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2:00 PM Central Standard Time
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Root Sports Rocky Mountain Plus
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM), The Zone (97.5 FM/1280 AM)
Injury Report: Kendrick Perkins (Out), Thabo Sefolosha (Out), Alec Burks (Questionable), Andris Biedrins (Unknown)
Previous Matchups: Oct 30 (W, 101-98), Nov 24 (W, 95-73), Jan 7 (L, 101-112)
Probable Starters
Trey Burke PG Russell Westbrook
Gordon Hayward SG Andre Roberson
Richard Jefferson SF Kevin Durant
Derrick Favors PF Serge Ibaka
Enes Kanter C Steven Adams
2013/14 Advanced Stats
93.5 (27th) Pace 98.1 (9th)
100.2 (25th) ORtg 107.5 (7th)
108.5 (30th) DRtg 100.4 (5th)

So, the Utah Jazz are playing some pretty horrible basketball right now.

How do I know that? Well, in their most recent game, they lost to a Pelicans team that was missing SIX rotation players.

It hasn't been this same old story for the Jazz throughout the entire season, though. Really, this Jazz season can be separated into three eras:

Era 1: October 30th- December 8th

The Jazz were 4-19 during this stretch. They suffered massively from the injury to Trey Burke, and had absolutely nobody to fill the role of point guard on the team. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward suffered with a debilitating leg injury that hindered his production.

Era 2: December 9th-February 12th

The Jazz were 15-14 during this stretch. They were competitive with just about everybody in the league, even scoring a victory over a fully-stocked Heat team. They did it with a flexible lineup that could be really tough offensively or defensively, given on whom they were playing. The unit was never totally offensively solvent though, so they would go through some rough losses.

Era 3: February 13th-Present

The Jazz are 4-17 during this stretch. Basically, they've fallen victim to a much tougher schedule, more motivated opponents, and inconsistent play from certain players. It's enough of a miracle that they were as successful as they were with such old and inexperienced players.

----

Anyway, if you need any explanation as to why we lost to the Jazz on January 7ths, it's because we faced them in the midst of era #2. We were also missing Serge Ibaka. Missing Serge Ibaka means a loss of focus on interior defense, so the Jazz were able to make their mark there. Furthermore, the Thunder were having their usual trouble covering shooters, and Ibaka's floor spacing abilities were desperately needed on the offensive end. It was kind of a nightmare game, and I'd prefer to forget about it.

Hopefully, tonight's game should bring some redemption. Ibaka was extremely efficient during our November 24th encounter with the Jazz, as well as an imposing defensive presence. Furthermore, Russell Westbrook has never gotten to play against the Jazz this year, so his performance could be crucial.

Westbrook should be particularly useful in generating turnovers. The Thunder really need a few of them to start the break in this game. If the Thunder can't get the pace going, the Jazz are going to basically lock them into a half-court grindfest. And that's fun for nobody, especially a high-scoring team like ours.

Anyway, the Jazz have absolutely no reason to win this game, so the Thunder just need to take care of business early. As long as they don't let the Jazz get anything at the rim and avoid leaving their defensive assignment, all should be good.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 98, Utah Jazz 79.

What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!

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