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Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: 2010-2011 Game 49 Preview; Sealing the Northwest Division

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

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (32-17) vs. The Utah Jazz (30-21)

Time: 8:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net Utah

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

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

Previous Meeting(s): Oct. 31st, Nov. 15th

With recent wins over the Hornets and Suns, the Thunder are absolutely cruising through the Western Conference, and firmly seated in the fourth seed. Tonight's game against the Jazz will serve as a final barrier as the Thunder look to entrench themselves with home court advantage heading into the playoffs. The season series is tied, so a win here would guarantee at least a tie in the season series, and give us the possibility of winning the season series 3-1 as we head into our final game with them at home on March 23rd.

Our earlier two matchups were marred by injuries, as we had no Nick Collison in a blowout loss to the Jazz on October 31st, and we were missing Jeff Green in a close win on November 15th. The Thunder will be in full force for this contest though, as Thabo Sefolosha has recovered from his knee injury. The Jazz may or may not be without Andrei Kirilenko, who is listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury, and Mehmet Okur, who is listed as "doubtful" for tonight's game.

The Jazz struggled in January much as the Thunder did. Unfortunately for them, they lost a couple of matchups against terrible teams like Washington, and New Jersey, resulting in a 6 game losing streak and a overall record of 6-8 in January. In some games, they were totally listless, and in other games, they struggled defensively. Overall, they struggled to get production out of their star players (like Deron Williams), and suffered from depth issues, searching to the farthest reaches of their bench for answers.

Tonight's game is huge for both teams, so it should be fun to watch. The scoring is usually high, and both teams have defensive stoppers in the right places. The Jazz did poorly against us last year because they wouldn't stop huge Thunder runs and had problems with depth. Their starting lineup is more talented and experienced, so if it comes down to the final minutes, I'd put my money on the Jazz. But the Thunder have a better roster and tighter rotation, so my money is on them for tonight's game.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 112, Utah 103