Utah Jazz (36-35, 16-20 road) vs. OKC Thunder (45-24, 24-10 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.7 (6th), Jazz– 108.6 (10th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.1 (16th), Jazz – 110.0 (24th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.8 (12th), Jazz – 91.5 (18th)
View from the enemy: Salt City Hoops
This is the Thunder’s first look at the new Jazz sans Deron Williams. It’s kind of a bummer too because the battles between Russell Westbrook and Williams were always fun. I’m not sure Devin Harris will challenge Westbrook with quite the same physicality that Williams did.
Still though, coming off the surprising loss to the Raptors Sunday, hopefully the Thunder take the floor with an edge tonight. I think going 5-1 on this homestand is acceptable, but having lost a game, there’s obviously no room for error now.
Utah coming in: The Jazz have dropped their last two and last played Monday.
Kendrick Perkins will be taking on his old friend Al Jefferson in a matchup I’m especially eager to watch. This is really the first game Perk has had a good post scoring big going opposite of him since he started playing. Jefferson has always hurt the Thunder along with frontcourt buddy Paul Millsap, so I’m excited to watch Serge Ibaka and Perk go against Utah’s solid front line.
The player that’s really kind of dangerous right now for the Jazz is C.J. Miles. He’s sort of taking it upon himself to score more and he’s not a bad shooter and can get to the rim pretty well. Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden will have to watch him closely otherwise he could give the Jazz the lift they need.
Andrei Kirilenko has been day-to-day lately, but will likely start tonight. He’s a good defender for Kevin Durant, so that’s definitely something to watch. Kirilenko is long and athletic so he can challenge KD on the perimeter. Durant needs a good bounce-back game though after Sunday, so it’ll be interesting.
The Jazz are technically still in the playoff hunt, but every game is important for them. They aren’t ready to lay down quite yet, so they’ll probably come out with a good amount of energy and effort. OKC should win this game, especially after Sunday’s disaster.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Thundercise.