Okla. City Thunder (48-28, 23-15 road) at Utah Jazz (50-27, 31-8 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.0 (14th), Jazz – 110.8 (7th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.9 (8th), Jazz – 104.6 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (14th), Jazz – 93.6 (9th)
View from the enemy: Salt City Hoops
Oh, Oklahoma City is playing the Jazz tonight? Pfffft. That’s a win. I mean, the Thunder’s 3-0 against them, right? While that’s obviously true, winning in Utah against the Jazz is a tall task. I don’t know how the Thunder did it the first time, but to do it a second time would certainly be impressive. Most impressive.
One thing about the Thunder’s 3-0 record against Utah is that it’s slightly deceiving. The win in Utah, Deron Williams was playing in his first game back after an injury. Last game, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price all sat out. The home win on New Year’s Eve was legit, but it took a questionable call that gave Nick Collison two free throws to win it. So just keep that in mind.
Utah coming in: The Jazz lost to the Lakers all the way back on Friday. So they’re well rested. They are 7-3 in their last 10 and a stellar 31-8 at home.
Russell Westbrook v. Deron Williams. Get excited. The last time, this was an absolute battle. They were physical with each other, beat up each other and both played great. You should be excited about this game just for this matchup. Two athletic, smart point guards with size and strength about to get after it. Should be fun.
Andrei Kirilenko will miss this game again, so that will help Kevin Durant’s scoring cause. KD will get C.J. Miles and Wes Matthews on him this time, two guys he scored 35 on last time. I kind of wish Kirilenko were playing just for the reason if OKC gets Utah in the playoffs, I’d like to know what Durant would be up against.
OKC has no match for Carlos Boozer inside, but with the quartet of Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, the Thunder should be able to hold their own. An X-Factor tonight could certainly be Mehmet Okur, who will stretch out Krstic and can shoot the 3. So while we have Williams-Westbrook, we also have Krstic-Okur. You should be even more excited about that matchup. (Okur sat out Friday’s game with a strained back but is supposed to be back tonight.) The Thunder needs that X-Factor themselves tonight. So whether that’s James Harden getting hot, Ibaka doing work on the glass or Eric Maynor playing well against his old mates again, OKC needs something.
This is just a massive game in the Western playoff race. Oklahoma City has locked away a spot in the playoffs and is looking like a solid six-seed. But a good week here could elevate the Thunder to home court territory or potentially even winning the Northwest Division. It won’t be easy at all, and that starts tonight in Utah.
Tip at 8:00 CDT. Go Win. Put fight in there too. Go Fight Win.