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Thunder vs Jazz game 1 preview: how will OKC start out the post-season against Utah?

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Game 1 will be our first view into how the Thunder see themselves when every game now matters.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder (4) vs Utah Jazz (5)

Series record: 0-0

Time: 5:30 CST

Location: Chesapeake Arena, OKC

Broadcast: TNT, FSOK

SLC Dunk

***

The Thunder welcome the Utah Jazz to their home court to square off in game 1 of the opening round of the 2018 NBA playoffs. To say that both teams did not really end up where we thought they would is an understatement. Pre-season, OKC was considered a potential rival to the Warriors and Rockets with their offseason acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Meanwhile, the Jazz were expected to have a down-season with the loss of Gordon Hayward.

It is remarkable what difference actually playing the games makes.

The Thunder experienced a regular season pathway that we can charitably describe as ‘circuitous.’ Ups, downs, sideways, you name it, the Thunder and their fanbase experienced it. And yet somehow, remarkably, by virtue of the one season tiebreaker they DO own, have home court advantage in the 1st round. Meanwhile, the Jazz went from completely underwater and looking to a lottery off-season in January to morphing into a defensive wrecking ball with the previously unheralded rookie Donovan Mitchell slaying dragons left and right.

The teams match up relatively well, which makes their respective seedings of 4 and 5 fitting to the series that will unfold. Given that Utah is defense, all the time, and the Thunder are defense, sort of some of the time, when they really want it, game 1 should prove to be a bit of a slug fest as they feel each other out and search for matchup advantages.

As Thunder fans now know all to well, it won’t be how OKC starts, but how they finish, with a big yellow highlighted circle around the notorious 3rd quarter. As we’ve pointed out extensively, the Thunder do have some advantages at the point, at the small forward, and even at center. But without focus and a commitment to play 4 quarters, they can struggle against anyone.

So what is the prediction?

And hopefully, a game 1 win.

(Be sure to visit the great Jazz site SLC Dunk and please comport yourselves in a way befitting of our great community at WTLC. They are fantastic and are as eager to watch a great series as we are.)

Poll

Who do you think will win game 1?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Thunder
    (119 votes)
  • 19%
    Jazz
    (29 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now