OKC Thunder (34-11, 15-7 road) at Utah Jazz (23-22, 17-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.5 (1st), Jazz– 105.5 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (12th), Jazz – 106.2 (22nd)
Pace: Thunder – 93.4 (4th), Jazz – 91.5 (16th)
View from the enemy: Salt City Hoops
Precisely the type of game Oklahoma City has been playing poorly in, right here. On the road in Utah with a tough stretch of games ahead on the schedule. The Thunder have performed well in Salt Lake the past few trips, but it’s not an easy place to win. And it’s especially difficult if you’re thinking about big games looming with the Clippers, Heat and Lakers.
I don’t know that the Thunder got over that little bump in the road with the win over Portland, but they certainly played better. Two of the last three games the Thunder’s defense has been outstanding, so either it’s a return to the average, or OKC’s trending up on that end of the floor.
Utah coming in: The Jazz last played Sunday beating the Lakers.
Three Big Things
1. Big Al. Al Jefferson is set to return after missing a few games. Perk has done nice work on Jefferson in the past and that’ll be a crucial key once again in this game for OKC. The more easy buckets Jefferson gets, the better Utah’s offense becomes immediately. It’s about keeping him off the block and making sure he doesn’t get to his comfort spots. Perk’s normally pretty good about pushing guys out of the lane.
2. Rebounding. Between Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Jazz rely a lot on hitting the glass hard to create easy points. Add in Derrick Favors who is athletic on the boards and Utah could take advantage of the Thunder’s often poor defensive rebounding.
3. Unbalanced. The Jazz really don’t have a specific player to fear. They’re an assortment of quality guys that need to all produce well. They don’t really have a guy than can go for 30, outside for maybe Millsap. It’s about keeping all the extraneous pieces from producing like Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Devin Harris, C.J. Miles and so on.
Tip at 8:00 CT. Go Fight Thunder.