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Thunder vs Jazz preview and gamethread: OKC looks to make statement against potential playoff opponent in Utah

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With 25 games to go, OKC embarks on a murderous stretch of games against potential playoff opponents, starting with the Jazz.

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

Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Utah Jazz

Time: 7PM CST

Location: Chesapeake Arena, OKC

Broadcast: ESPN, FSOK

Counterpart: SLC Dunk

***

The Oklahoma City Thunder rev up their engines again tonight, and against a familiar opponent in the Utah Jazz. Ever since Utah unceremoniously ended the Carmelo experiment of yesteryear, OKC fans have been left wondering how high the Thunder ceiling actually is, given how badly they looked in those playoffs.

In their first head-to-head this season, the Thunder came out in full force, dominating from opening tip. In their second, OKC eked out a win on the road. In both games, Paul George showcased what we’ve come to understand as a certifiable MVP-level run.

Tonight, Utah knows that it is time to make a final playoff push to enhance their seeding position. The opportunity to get into the 4-5 mix amid Houston and Portland is likely more appealing than the possibility of dealing with the Warriors, Nuggets, or even the Thunder in round 1.

Utah will once again look to their defense to bulwark their effort, while Rudy Gobert, who has historically matched up well against Steven Adams, will work inside. Second year guard Donovan Mitchell has had an up-and-down campaign, which is not unusual for a player who out performed rookie expectations only to struggle when defenses key on them more (see: Jayson Tatum). But we know he is an athletic playmaker who can get hot and carry his team, so it will be incumbent on the Thunder defense to once again take them out of any offensive rhythm.

On the other end, OKC will be led by Russell Westbrook, looking for his 11th straight triple-double, and to welcome in new guy Markieff Morris while welcoming back Jerami Grant, Dennis Schroder and Dennis Schroder’s gold patch (and his new baby!).

Given OKC will be on the front end of a back-to-back, having to deal with the Kings tomorrow night, this game will be about purposeful focus on what they can do better than Utah, and executing throughout.

Twenty-five games left. Here we go.

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Thunder
    (273 votes)
  • 11%
    Jazz
    (34 votes)
307 votes total Vote Now