Utah Jazz (0-2, 0-1 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-0, 1-0 home)
TV: NBATV (Cox 256, HD 726); FSOK (Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, DirectTV 679, UVerse 753)
Stream: Click here (League Pass Broadband is free until Nov. 2!)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Time: 6:00 CT
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.2 (8th), Jazz – 93.7 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (14th), Jazz – 113.2 (28th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.7 (11th), Jazz – 97.1 (9th)
View from the enemy: Salt City Hoops
Any time you’re playing a wounded dog it’s a little scary. Especially if that wounded dog is a pretty good basketball team. The Jazz are expected to be a contender in the West, but in their first two games haven’t played well. They’re 0-2 and in both games, they lost by a total of 38 points. Obviously Utah is a good club and they’re due to start putting it together any moment.
I watched the Jazz pretty closely against the Suns and where they really seemed to struggle was in giving up dribble penetration and allowing the Phoenix shooter open outside looks. The Suns hit 10 3s and had Channing Frye knocked down a few wide open ones, that number would’ve been higher. Of course the Thunder have a point guard that’s terrific at creating dribble penetration and the Thunder have some shooter capable of hitting an open shot.
Utah coming in: As mentioned, the Jazz are 0-2 with losses to the Nuggets and Suns. Both games weren’t extremely competitive, with the Jazz struggling on the defensive end.
Traditionally, Oklahoma City really struggles with Al Jefferson. He’s one of the few true post-playing big men remaining in the league. He’s gifted on the block and at times, he’s been unstoppable. But that’s not just a Thunder thing. When Jefferson has his game working in the post, he’s tough for the entire league. Serge Ibaka played Jefferson really well last season so I would expect more of the same with Ibaka seeing time at center and low minutes for Nenad Krstic.
The Deron Williams-Russell Westbrook matchup is one of the funnest point guard showdowns in the league. Both are physical, bruising point guards. And both are extremely competitive that don’t lay back for anything. It will be a battle between the two. However, if the game is close late, I’d fully expect to see Thabo Sefolosha moving over to guard Williams, especially since Raja Bell isn’t much of an offensive threat.
Andrei Kirilenko is a potential Kevin Durant stopper, and we’ve been lucky are Kirilenko has been out in a lot of the games OKC has played against Utah. Kirilenko and his stupid hair are ready to go for this one though. Of course Carlos Boozer is gone so Paul Millsap is starting. Jeff Green will likely have some issues there, though Green matches Millsap in size so it’s not going to be a matter of being at a disadvantage physically this time.
This is a big opportunity for OKC to establish some early position in the Northwest and get a leg up on a Utah team that’s trying to sort things out. And also, it’s another big return to OKC for Earl Watson, which should make tonight extra special.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Halloween.
Tickets for this game are tough to come by so if you’re looking for some, be sure to check Totally Tickets for some great seats.