Can the Oklahoma City Thunder avenge an earlier setback to the Utah Jazz tonight from Salt Lake City, Utah?
When these Northwest Division rivals last met, Utah enjoyed an ample 109-89 blowout victory. A stifling Jazz defense held Russell Westbrook to 7-of-25 FGM while allowing just 36.5 overall FG% from a disheveled Thunder collective.
Meanwhile, Utah’s perimeter attack was finely attuned as Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Shelvin Mack, and Joe Ingles combined for 68 points on 25-39 shooting. Further, Utah dominated the paint, outscoring OKC 50-42.
Tonight, a downtrodden Thunder squad will require more than fourteen total assists to upend burgeoning Utah’s formidable six-game winning streak.
And, as usual with Oklahoma City, the onus begins and ends with Russell Westbrook.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS. UTAH JAZZ GAME INFORMATION
- OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (25-19) vs. UTAH JAZZ (29-16)
- Start Time: 9 PM ET
- Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
- TV: FSOK, ROOT, NBA LP
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER KEYS TO VICTORY
- Ball movement (OKC cannot effectively isolate against a well-disciplined Jazz defense)
- Perimeter defense (A repeat performance from Hayward, Ingles etc. mustn't be allowed)
- Bench firepower (OKC will need solid performances from Kanter/Abrines/Grant)
- Victor Oladipo off the bounce (Dipo’ needs to add another shot-creating dimension)
- Energy (The Thunder must play with passion)
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Amid a six-game road trip, OKC has dropped three-of-four contests. The latest setback came against Golden State, 121-100.
With two-way cornerstone Steven Adams sidelined, Oklahoma City has lost two-straight, while ceding 120.5 ppg.
Unfortunately, as of 9:30 AM ET, the ‘Big Kiwi’s’ status for tonight’s contest is still undetermined. Certainly, a healthy Adams would go a long way in combating Utah’s top-ranked defense (95.3 opp ppg) and physical interior play.
An excellent Utah Jazz team has waylayed its last six opponents — including Cleveland 100-92. During this fruitful stretch, Utah has held its unsuccessful charges to a minuscule 97.3 ppg.
Anchoring Utah’s vaunted defense is Rudy “The Stifle Tower” Gobert. This season the 7’1 prodigy averages 12.7 rpg to compliment his league-leading block per game average of 2.5.
Throughout the Jazz’ undefeated march, Gobert has led the way with an eye-popping line of 16.2 rpg, 16.7 ppg, 73.6 FG%, and 2.2 bpg.
If Gobert’s numbers hold form tonight, OKC will indeed have a tall order on hand.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS/INJURY REPORT
The Oklahoma City Thunder currently list Steven Adams as day-to-day. The Utah Jazz list Rodney Hood as out indefinitely (Knee).
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Shooting Guard: Victor Oladipo
- Small Forward: Andre Roberson
- Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis
- Center: Jerami Grant
- Point Guard: George Hill
- Shooting Guard: Joe Ingles
- Small Forward: Gordon Hayward
- Power Forward: Derrick Favors
- Center: Rudy Gobert
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER +6
Both the Vegas books and our partners at numberFire see Utah as a prohibitive favorite for tonight’s divisional clash.
Overall, the Jazz lead the NBA in total points allowed. More so, Quin Snyder’s stingy bunch also reside among the league’s elite in OPP FGM (35.8), OPP FG% (43.3), OPP 3PM (8.1), OPP 3PA (22.8), OPP POINTS PAINT (40.5), and DEFRTG (101.3).
In addition to these formidable defensive numbers, Utah’s OFFRTG (107) ranks a surprising #9 league-wide.
Oklahoma City will have to find ways to frustrate Utah’s gelling inside/out efficiency, as superstar Russell Westbrook probes and prods every inch of the iron-clad Jazz defense.
A strong shooting performance from Oladipo, Abrines, and Westbrook is essential to create driving lanes and optimal post opportunities for the Thunder.
OKC also must be aware of George Hill’s stout two-way presence. Hill, whom is averaging over 18 ppg, dropped 30 in Utah’s 109-100 win vs. Indiana on Saturday.
A Thunder win vs. a red-hot Jazz collective would help restore much of the team’s lost confidence as their grueling road-journey nears a conclusion.
Oklahoma City sports a 10-13 road record, and is 4-3 vs. division foes. The Utah Jazz has amassed a 16-7 home record, while faring 5-2 against the Northwest Division.