Records: Utah Jazz (14-13) at Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Cox Sports Television
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KMEZ 106.7 FM
Enemy Blog(s): SLC Dunk, Salt City Hoops
Previous Meeting(s): Feb. 10 (Thunder lead series 1-0)
Tonight the Jazz are in Oklahoma City for a rematch of last Friday night's game, which the Thunder won 101-87. In the first game, the Jazz jumped out to an early lead on the strength of great perimeter shooting as well as their customarily strong inside play of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. After a shaky start, the Thunder began to build momentum and gradually were able to outperform the Jazz quarter by quarter, which culminated in the double-digit win.
The Jazz big men played well, but what the Thunder were able to do, and should hope to repeat tonight, was prevent them from getting a lot of offensive rebounds. OKC outrebounded the Jazz 46-32 overall and 10-6 on the offensive glass. Kevin Durant had an unusually quiet night last week, but fortunately for him the Thunder big men came up really big on the offensive end of the court. While OKC was not able to completely outplay the Jazz duo on the inside, the combination of Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, and Nazr Mohammed did a great job cancelling out the Jazz interior offensive play. The extra offense took the pressure off of worn-out Durant, who looked to score only in key spots during the game. Meanwhile, player of the week Russell Westbrook continued his assault on opposing back-courts, at times completely overwhelming the smaller Devin Harris on his way to 28 points and five steals.
The Thunder seem to match up well against the Jazz, and I would look for another strong interior game from the Thunder bigs. As long as OKC can keep Millsap and Jefferson from getting too many easy baskets (and watch out for those backdoor lobs) OKC should come out of this with a second win against the Jazz in less than a week.
Prediction: Thunder 102, Jazz 90