Oklahoma City Thunder (7-7) vs. Utah Jazz (7-6)
View from the enemy: Salt City Hoops
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 103.4 (23rd), Jazz – 108.7 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.5 (7th), Jazz – 107.9 (20th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (19th), Jazz – 91.2 (25th)
(Note: This pregame was written last week. If something if off or incorrect, that’s why.)
Does it feel like the Thunder has been on the road a TON these past two weeks? It does? Well, that’s because Oklahoma City has had seven of its last nine away from the Ford Center. The good news is, after this one in Utah, OKC has a nice, cushy five-game homestand.
Salt Lake City is never an easy place to win. The Jazz haven’t been exactly great this year, but this is a roster still loaded with talent and players that are going to make plays. The Thunder has proven they can win on the road, but some places are just harder to win at than others.
Last season, in three games, Deron Williams averaged 24.3 ppg and 7.6 apg against OKC. Russell Westbrook just had trouble staying with him. The reason? Westbrook has the bad habit of running underneath screens and if you give Williams a little air to shoot pull up jumpers, he’ll hit them. Westbrook is already a better defender than he was last year, but Williams is in the class of the league in terms of point guard play.
If you like slightly unathletic, jumpshooting big men, boy have I got the game for you. The NBA, where Mehmet Okur versus Nenad Krstic happens. Carlos Boozer will have the edge over Jeff Green inside just because Green traditionally struggles with bruising big men. The silver lining is that Green has the ability to pull Boozer out of the paint and maybe get him in foul trouble.
Ronnie Brewer will probably guard Kevin Durant and while Brewer is a solid defender, he doesn’t have the height the handle KD. Brewer is just 6’5 and of course Durant is 6’10. KD can and will shoot over Brewer all night. Now, Durant has to hit those…
Wesley Matthews has been a surprisingly good rookie and is quietly doing nice work. But he’ll be in for a tough one with Thabo checking him.
Again, the good news is after this, the Thunder gets to come home and actually put their bags down and stay a while. So building a little momentum into the homestand would definitely be a nice little bonus.
Tip at 8:00 CST. Go O-K-C.