Chances are the Thunder will play one of these three teams in the first round of the playoffs. How would they stack up against each?
I'll start with the Rockets. I don't know. The Rockets are so funky I don't even want to try and figure out what they'll do or how they'll match up. If anyone can provide some insight the comments are open.
The Jazz took a hit when they lost Bogdanovic, but they still have plenty of talent. One of the most interesting match ups to me would be the one at small forward. Joe Ingles would start right? And who will his counterpart be on the other side. Terrance Ferguson or Andre Roberson? Ferguson hasn't really done a great job showing why he should keep the starting position, however, on the other side Roberson hasn't played in nearly 2 years. How is his body going to hold up? Is he in game shape? Is anybody? Will these unique circumstances help him? Does it level the playing field? In any event I feel the Jazz have an advantage at this position.
But where I see one of the Thunder's biggest advantages comes off the bench. It's center Nerlens Noel. Not only is Nerlens having a solid season he doesn't seem to have much competition coming off the Utah bench. What big men do they have after Rudy Gobert? Unless they have some guy I've never heard of (which very well could be) it would seem their options are Georges Niang, Tony Bradley, or Ed Davis? I'm just getting back into seriously watching basketball, but I still know a little bit and none of those names strikes any kind of fear in me. And maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.
The X factor in all this is Dennis Schroder. When will he have to leave the bubble and how long will he be out. And what will he be like when he gets back. I know from personal experience that when I had my first baby my work suffered a lot because all I wanted to do was hang out with my baby. Then again I've never shown nearly the commitment in anything that it takes to be a professional athlete. I wish him the best.
What if they play the Nuggets? The first advantage I see is Chris Paul versus the young Jamal Murray. Murray is great and he brought it in the playoffs last year, but in these type of situations I generally go with the veteran. I think Murray would get a masterclass lesson firsthand from Chris Paul.
The Nuggets depth is where they have the real advantage. Unlike the Jazz the Nuggets would have at least one guy capable of hanging with Nerlens Noel. Mason Plumlee and Paul Millsap. The Nuggets have so many options and weapons that they rarely use off the bench it seems like they'd have an answer for everything.
It would take a gargantuan effort from Paul and SGA plus Steven Adams holding Jokic in check for the Thunder to topple the Nuggets. It's asking a lot.
It looks like in my mind the Jazz would be the most favorable match up. What do y'all think?