Tag - Monday

Five Thoughts Game 6 (Jazz 96, Thunder 91)

Five Thoughts Game 6 (Jazz 96, Thunder 91)

1. Simply too much swirling in my head right now to put together a coherent blog entry that addresses the season in totality while also looking ahead to what’s next for the Thunder; that will come over the next day or two via a Final Thoughts for the year. Right now, I guess I’m a little numb. I actually don’t feel the same deflation that I felt after the Game 4 loss on Monday. That was the night I truly felt we were done. All week there has been a feeling of impending doom for me. Without question the incredible comeback in Game 5 energized me and gave me hope. Yet, I still didn’t really believe we’d win tonight. You can only survive dangling on the edge for so long before you finally fall off. All season the Thunder had both missed opportunities to soar and dodged the kill shots that would bury them. Something had to give. They somehow wound up with the four seed; somehow wound up forcing a game 6; and there they were again…down 13 midway through the fourth and then out of nowhere down one. But life on the edge generally doesn’t end happily. Your pinky finger can only hold you so long. They finally slipped. Part of me wants to say that I’m relieved. And that might be something I ACTUALLY say to people when they ask. But it’s a lie. I’m not relieved. I’m bummed. I’m disappointed. “Sad” is a bit of a dramatic term given the subject, but I guess there is some of that too. Even though the season did NOT go the way I thought/hoped it would, I was still locked in… from the very beginning until the very end. Borderline embarrassed to say they played 88 games this year and I watched them all. I wrote a Five Thoughts about 84 of them I believe. That is a pretty serious investment in time (to say nothing of the financial end). So pretty clearly, Thundering Up is a big deal to me. To realize it’s over until October stings. The uncertain future makes it even a bit more painful this year.

2. I try not to be a Russ apologist. I believe even as a fan that I acknowledge his flaws. I definitely think due to his frenetic nature and unpredictability that he is a more difficult star to play with and build around. I can certainly see why teammates would at times get frustrated. And if you are a GM I think it’s tough to figure out exactly which pieces fit best with him. If you are a coach I think it’s tough to figure out exactly how to deploy him. How can you rein him in without eliminating what makes him so great? All of those things are valid questions that deserve answers. But you know what? Sometimes someone else just needs to freakin’ DO SOMETHING. Russ did not hijack this game from the start. Maybe he should have. He only went into bananas mode when there was no other option remaining. It was similar throughout the series. In hindsight I actually wish he would have been more aggressive at the end of Game 2. I was incredibly disappointed with PG tonight. I bet the narrative will be that Russ stifled the game and PG “only” took 16 shots to Russ’s 43. But that’s the thing about shots— at some point you HAVE TO TAKE THEM. PG had plenty of chances tonight to make an impact and help the team. He went 2-16 and he looked insanely (I’ll hold off on saying scared) tentative. He would dribble four feet inside the arc and just stop. Frozen. I understand the offense wasn’t doing anything and that PG wasn’t exactly getting great looks. But you know who else wasn’t getting great looks? Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook. And both of those guys kept making tough, tough shots. This stuff isn’t easy. If you want to be a star on a team that advances in the playoffs, you are gonna have to make things happen. I do not “blame” this game, this series, or this season on PG alone— not even close. But the bottom line is that he was absolutely absent tonight. And they really, really needed him.

3. On top of everything else, it was also fitting that the Thunder also were dealt a dose of bad luck— another season-long trend. They lost a lot of games this year based on crazy made shots from opponents, bad bounces, and some bad calls. Tonight, it would have been nice if a few of those drives from Mitchell (which were well defended) came up short. Moreover, it would have been nice if one of the two Big calls went their way at the end. On the final shot from PG, I think that was a foul. It’s a call that has generally been made all year across the league. That said, in THAT situation it’s tough to rely on a ref to give you that call. It wasn’t overly egregious. And PG was for sure fishing for it. Dangerous to lay the season on the line hoping for that. It was however, probably a foul. My bigger issue was on the play prior when they did blow the whistle but didn’t award him free throws. He was CLEARLY going up for the shot when they called the foul. That absolutely should have been three free throws. Very frustrating to not get either of those. But it fell in line with the general theme.

4. Donovan made some good adjustments in Games 5 and 6. Our defense was better. We didn’t allow 100 points in either game. It took some serious heroics from Mitchell for the Jazz to get much going offensively. We changed how we played their screen game and it was generally effective. Scoring became more difficult for Utah the past two games. But man, I think he messed up playing Melo as much as he did. I was fine continuing to start him just to not upset the apple cart TOO much. It also allows the bench guys to stay in their roles. But specifically in the third quarter, he just left Melo out there far too long. He was cold shooting the ball and he’s been struggling defensively all series— the hook came too late. The metrics make this plainly clear- Melo was a massive weakness in this series for the Thunder and Donovan didn’t do much of anything to mitigate that.

5. Again, the end of season wrap up along with the “what do we do now?” Thoughts are still to come. Right now it’s 1:23am on April 28th and our season has been over for about 90 minutes. We were 1-2 shots away from pushing this thing to seven back at The Peake. But much like the season, those 1-2 shots proved to be far too difficult and far too elusive. And now we have a long wait to see if they can figure it out.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.
We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder Playoff Game Day No. 5: vs. Utah Jazz

Utah leads series 3-1

Wednesday, April 25 :: 8:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: NBATV
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 2½-point favorites. The over/under is 207½.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season comes down to this, trailing 3-1 to the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz, the Thunder have to get a victory to keep their season alive.
  • Oklahoma City is 0-4 all-time in Game 5s when they trail a series 3-1. They’ve lost one of those Game 5s at home, a 2013 series loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. (the Westbrook knee injury playoff years).
  • The Jazz beat the Thunder 113-96 on Monday night, outscoring Oklahoma CIty 86-59 over the final 33:35 of the game.
  • Russell Westbrook was fined $10,000 and given a technical foul for his part in the altercation with Rudy Gobert.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is on NBATV for the national broadcast. It’s unknown who the broadcast team will be.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.



Three Keys to the Game

Second Quarter

Utah has outscored the Thunder by six, 12 and 13 points in three Jazz victories. Oklahoma City outscored Utah by six in their lone win. While this seems arbitrary, the point differentials mean a halftime lead in every single game. The team who leads at halftime is 4-0 in this series. That’s on par with regular season numbers. Utah was 11-26 when trailing at half and the Thunder were 11-21. Thunder were 36-10 and Utah was 35-8 when leading at the break, respectively.

Second chance scoring

This might as well be rebounding, too. They go hand-in-hand. The Thunder are only averaging 9.0 offensive rebounds per game in this series. That would put them 27th in the NBA in the regular season. They averaged 12.5 offensive rebounds per game in the regular season, first in the NBA. Something has to change. In their only win, Oklahoma City scored 19 second chance points. They scored 21 in their three losses.

Big Three

When your season comes down to one game, it’s up to your “superstars” to figure it out. There hasn’t been a game where everyone is on the same page. There hasn’t been a moment where you were just overwhelmed with their ability because they were just dominating, even in Game 1. Oklahoma City needs all three to step up and perform the way they can. They need to “flip the switch.” Which is their favorite saying.

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Thunder face elimination with 113-96 loss

Utah took the lead late in the second quarter and never looked back. Utah used that and a massive 9-0 run to start the third quarter to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-96 on Monday night.

With the victory, Utah takes a commanding 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Game 5 is on Wednesday night at the Peake, with Oklahoma City being 0-4 all-time in Game 5s when trailing 3-1.

Russell Westbrook and others were never really able to sustain their hyper level of intensity Oklahoma City took an 8-point lead in the first quarter. However, a lot of fouls and turnovers really gave you the feeling it wouldn’t last.

Oklahoma City lost its third straight in the series, shooting just 39 percent from the field.

As the Thunder built an 38-31 lead in the second quarter, that’s when Utah made their move. They didn’t overwhelm you with the threes but finding Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors for points inside. Royce O’Neal was huge in the comeback.

After Oklahoma City took a 49-47 lead on a Jerami Grant bucket, Joe Ingles, who had missed a handful of wide open threes, finally nailed one, giving Utah their first lead since the first quarter. Oklahoma City would never lead again. Ingles would drain another one, pushing the lead up and out of reach.

Utah led 58-52 at the break.

That’s when Utah blew the game open. The Jazz scored 9-0 points before the Thunder even walked on the court in the second half. Utah made it a 15-point advantage and it really was never in the ballpark after that.

Oklahoma City was able to cut it down to 10 in the third quarter, when Paul George hit a lay up, cutting it down to 70-60 with 7:54 remaining.

The officiating, while no real bearing on the game was inconsistent and saw seven technical fouls and one ejection on Jae Crowder for hitting Steven Adams in the nose. The game was chippy from the start and the officials failed to really get the game under control. Players were knocked around, on both sides, but really seemed to have bothered the Thunder more.

Paul George led Oklahoma City with 32 points on 9-of-21 shooting. He was a poor 2-of-9 from three but finish 12-of-12 from three throw line. Westbrook had 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting, 14 rebounds and only three assists. Raymond Felton had 10 points for the Thunder off the bench.

Game 5 starts at 8:30 p.m. on NBATV and on Fox Sports Oklahoma. If the Thunder win, they’ll go to Salt Lake City for a pivotal Game 6. The starting time is unknown. We’ll have Brady Trantham in arena for Game 5.

Keys to the Game

Pace: F

Utah dictated the pace all night. Oklahoma City couldn’t do much outside of the first 18 minutes of the game. After that, the final 30 minutes, Utah controlled everything. It was quite embarrassing.

Rebounding: F

Utah had 17 second chance points on 10 offensive rebounds. They out-rebounded the Thunder and really limited the best offensive rebounding team in the regular season to only nine tonight. Adams only had seven rebounds, one on the offensive glass.

Share the ball: F

Westbrook had three assists in the first quarter… he finished with three assists. Oklahoma City… no Russell Westbrook has to share the ball. Oklahoma City cannot win when Westbrook only has three assists. He cannot be that selfish.

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Thunder Playoff Game Day No. 4: at Utah Jazz

Utah leads series 2-1

Monday, April 23 :: 9:30 p.m. CST ::Vivint Smart Home Arena (19,911)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4-point underdog. The over/under is 209½.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Oklahoma City faces pretty much their entire season tonight. Oklahoma City is 0-4 all-time in Game 5s, so the Thunder need this game more than anything.
  • Utah used a 13-0 run to ice Game 2 on Saturday night. Oklahoma City once again struggled in the fourth quarter.
  • Oklahoma City is 6-4 in Game 4s when down 2-1 in a series.
  • Russell Westbrook fell one rebound shy of a triple-double, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and two steals, despite having one of his worst games in the playoffs in a long time.
  • Raymond Felton led the OKC reserves, who outscored the Jazz bench 34-17, with 14 points, shooting 4-of-5 from long range and 5-of-10 from the field.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game is on TNT for the national broadcast. It’s unknown who the broadcast team will be.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.



Three Keys to the Game

Pace

Utah struggled keeping up with the pace in Game 1. The Jazz (25th in pace in the regular season) have done a better job of slowing the pace down. It was 100.2 in Game 1, 97.3 in Game 2, and 96.4 in Game 3. If it’s around 99-100-plus, that’s where Oklahoma City excels. When the Jazz keep it below 98, Utah thrives. It’s that simple.

Rebounding

Utah is 35-8 when they win the rebounding battle and they only allow 10.9 second chance points per game. The Jazz are also only 19-21 when allowing 11 or more second chance scoring. They’re 29-13 when they allow 10 or less. Oklahoma City MUST find a way to gobble up offensive boards and make the Jazz pay. This goes back to Steven Adams.

Share the ball

Oklahoma City continues their sharing ways, they’ll be good. Oklahoma City is 31-12 when Westbrook has at least 10 assists. he’s averaging 22.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.0 assists in four games against Utah. If Westbrook could get to that 10 assist mark that means two things: 1) he’s trusting his teammates and 2) those said teammates are hitting their shots.

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Time to walk the walk

“I guarantee that.”

Russell Westbrook spoke with a lot of gusto after the Game 3 loss to Utah on Saturday night. Maybe it’s the elevation or just the sheer undiable ability to win but Westbrook’s guarantee is a big deal. Oklahoma City has spoke of being calm and “being able to flip a switch.” With a monumental game on the horizons on Monday night, it’s time for Oklahoma City to put up or shut up.

If Oklahoma City can, they probably should’ve already done that. Complaining to officials, instead of getting back on defense is getting tiresome. Poor efforts in playoff games make us cringe to the point those who are on the calm side of things are starting to freak out.

With the heart of Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City can come back and win this series. We’ve seen what his wild determination can do. He’s taken apart multiple teams by himself. He’s done it in the final minutes of the game. He’s done it in overtime and throughout four quarters. On Saturday night, he was a large reason why the Thunder struggled.

“You live by the Brodie, you die by the Brodie” an echoing statement that rang so true on Saturday. He’s also why Oklahoma City can even say they’re in a position to win the series. Another historic season coupled with some real talent finally helped the Thunder ascend to the ranks of contenders. No one knew how important Andre Roberson was until he went down and brought the Thunder down to potential pretenders.

Oklahoma City has won in hostile environments. They’ve won in the Oracle. They’ve won in Dallas when the Mavericks were really good. They went to the Staples Center and beat the Lakers. They’ve beaten San Antonio numerous times on the Riverwalk.

But… That was a different team. Only six players remain from that 2016 Western Conference run. Westbrook, Adams, Roberson, Singler, Huestis and Collison. So, it’s really three players. Collison still didn’t play very much that season, only averaging 11.8 minutes per game.

So, this Thunder team. The rebuilt post-KD team has yet to win a road playoff game (0-4). You can throw last season out and we’re left with Saturday night’s loss in an electric building.

It’s time for Oklahoma City to put up or shut up. The time for talk is over. Put the ball in Westbrook’s hands and as Matt Moore says, “Let Westbrook be Westbrook.”

In Brodie we trust.

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Thunder Playoff Digits: Whoops, here we go again

Oklahoma City couldn’t figure out the second half once again. Utah used an impressive 13-0 run to put the Thunder out to pasture with a 115-102 win in Game 3 on Saturday night. Oklahoma City will look to respond on Monday night in Utah. Here are some numbers that affected the win.

33

Oklahoma City only had 33 rebounds in the loss on Saturday night. The Thunder really need to figure out this rebounding things. It’s the second lowest rebound total of the season. That’s a recipe for disaster.

8

Total turnovers for Russell Westbrook

1

Ricky Rubio had his first career triple-double on Saturday night.

17

Total assists by the Thunder. While Westbrook had nine of them, it probably should’ve been a lot more if people had hit their shots.

38.9%

Thunder’s shooting percentage the final 31 minutes of the game.

66.7%

Oklahoma City’s shooting the first 17 minutes of the game.

50%

The Thunder shot 50 percent from three on Saturday night, which is really all for naught in the loss. It’s one of the few positive notes from the night.

23

Oklahoma City was called for 23 fouls, Utah called for 20. Two for Utah were in the final minutes, pointless finals. You could argue the officiating was inconsistent or the fact Oklahoma City was just sloppy and careless all night long.

6

Only six offensive boards for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has to do a better job on the offensive glass. It doesn’t help when Steven Adams was in foul trouble.

19

Utah had 19 second chance points, compared to Oklahoma City’s eight. That’s embarrassing.

3

Utah had three players score at least 20 points. Ricky Rubio (26), Donovan Mitchell (22), and Joe Ingles (21). Only Paul George scored more than 20 for the Thunder.

57.1%

Utah shot 57.1 percent from three (8-of-14) in the second half from three. Mitchell and Ingles combined for 6-of-8 from deep in the second half.

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Five Thoughts 4-21-18 (Game 3 Jazz 115, Thunder 102)

Five Thoughts 4-21-18 (Game 3 Jazz 115, Thunder 102)

1. Before the game I predicted Utah would win game 3 and Thunder would come back and win a close one in Game 4 to escape by the slimmest of margins. While I won’t completely abandon hope of that, tonight was beyond troubling. Quite simply, Utah appears to be the better team. Since mid January, Jazz have best record in NBA. They have the best defensive player in the NBA. They have the best rookie in the NBA (or second if you prefer Simmons). They have the best three point shooter in the NBA. They are the best defensive team in the NBA. They have one of the (if not THE) best coaches in the NBA. I expected us to lose tonight. What I didn’t expect was to get so overwhelmed. One thing we know— Russ and Adams are tough. They aren’t pushovers. Tonight, they got bullied. Rubio owned Russ and Gobert owned Adams. Both of our guys looked borderline intimidated. I don’t think they WERE intimidated, but they were dominated. That was surprising to see. And it leads me to believe that Utah is simply the better team. They are pretty fun to watch to be honest. Well constructed, well coached, very balanced. They play differently than just about every other team in the league. Much more old school with true bigs and a pass-first point guard. It was somewhat frustrating tonight, but I’m really not upset post game. We look inferior, both in talent and in preparation.

2. The Rubio/Russ thing tonight was very surprising. I certainly did not expect Russ to get his arse handed to him the way he did. Obviously there is simply no way the Thunder are going to sniff a win in any game where Russ gets completely dominated by Ricky Rubio. No doubt the presence of Gobert is having an effect on what Russ does offensively. He is struggling to finish at the rim and tonight you saw him get gun shy and either pass the ball back out or force a pass to nowhere resulting in a turnover. So it’s not like Rubio himself was eating Russ up defensively, but the point is that in the head to head match up one point guard was awesome and the other was subpar. The fourth quarter really highlighted it. With Russ on the bench, PG got going a bit and we cut the lead from 14 down to 7. Russ came back into the game after a Utah timeout. Very first possession, Rubio loses Russ and hits a little jumper. Russ then turns the ball over shortly thereafter. From that point on it’s all Jazz. Thunder were actually having more success with Russ on the bench. You aren’t going to leave him there; I’m not suggesting that. Simply outlining how striking it was tonight that Rubio outplayed RW. Surprising and disappointed. We’ve seen Russ look bad before. We’ve seen him go wild. But it’s been pretty rare where we’ve seen him essentially stand down. He looked shell shocked tonight.

3. Can’t blame any of this series on Melo. He’s done his job. His job for the Thunder isn’t to be a star. It’s to be efficient with the shots he gets and to occasionally bail the offense out with ISO when it stagnates. He’s done that in this series. He’s also made some nice plays on the defensive end with active hands. He will never be an overall positive defensively but with the exception of Game 2, Favors hasn’t really hurt us and in that game he did some of his damage from far away from the basket. Melo is a role player that is supposed clean things up for the top two guys. Can’t point a finger at him when the other two aren’t setting the stage.

4. I liked Donovan inserting Patterson early tonight (clearly Billy reads the blog). It worked out pretty well too as we went on a big run around the time PP came in. Beyond that, Donovan didn’t have any answers tonight. It’s possible the answers aren’t there to be had. Maybe the mix just isn’t right and the experiment was destined to fail. Maybe they just need more than a year to get it all worked out. Maybe he’s done the best anyone can do. It’s also possible there are strings to be pulled that haven’t. I don’t really have any specifics I want to see from Donovan. The rotations are mostly fine. Perhaps some nit picking here or there, but I’m OK with it overall. But if you watch the game tonight it’s pretty clear that one team had something over the other that is hard to replace: Confidence. Utah looked like they had that game totally under control-even when they didn’t. We were the opposite— tentative, confused. There just wasn’t much to like tonight and virtually nothing that would give you confidence that they can figure it out before Utah wins two more. I’m not sure how much of the problem Donovan is or was tonight, but he clearly didn’t have any solutions either.

5. I doubt Russ plays this poorly again. He knows he got abused tonight and I imagine he will come out Monday with some ferocity. It’s possible that could filter throughout the team. It’s also possible that the free and easy spirit with which Utah played could tighten now with some pressure shifting. So I don’t necessarily expect a repeat in Game 4 from what we saw tonight. But I don’t have any confidence that we can do what it takes for four quarters on the road against this team. Perhaps the point guard match up shifts in our favor or at least levels out, but then maybe we don’t shoot the three as well or someone else for Utah picks up where Rubio left off, etc. It would also help if Adams could stay on the floor. The thing is if this was ONLY a gut check game, I’d feel OK about it. But it’s not. This isn’t just a matter of playing harder or smarter. There are real basketball issues here and they aren’t going away. The one thing this team has done well all season long is to wiggle themselves free right before the train comes barreling down the track. Every time I’ve been ready to kick dirt on them they do something great. Something that keeps hope alive. Well, here are again.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.
We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Complete Thunder first round schedule

The Oklahoma City clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. They’ll host divisional rival, the Utah Jazz in the first round. The series will be your traditional 2-2-1-1-1, with first two in Oklahoma City, two in Salt Lake City, then alternating from Oklahoma City through Utah until we have a winner.

The regular season series was weird between Oklahoma City and Utah. The entire series was done before Christmas with Oklahoma City up 3-1. So, it’s going to be really weird to see what these two teams are like as they’re really different after four months of basketball.

Since Oklahoma City moved from Seattle, The Thunder are 17-2 against the Jazz at home, including 14 straight. The last time the Thunder lost at home to Utah, it happened in Oklahoma City Arena.

Oklahoma City on the flip side is 10-10 at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Oklahoma City is 3-1 in Salt Lake City since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

The last time these franchises met in the playoffs was the 2000 playoffs. That left with the Jazz knocking off Seattle 3-2. Before that, they had met a few times, including the 1996 Western Conference Finals. It’ll be the first time Oklahoma City and Utah will meet in the playoffs.

Here’s the entire first round series between Oklahoma City and Utah:

Game 1

Sunday, April 15 | Utah at Oklahoma City | 5:30 p.m. | TNT

Game 2

Wednesday, April 18 | Utah at Oklahoma City | 7 p.m. | NBATV

Game 3

Saturday, April 21 | Oklahoma City at Utah | 9 p.m. | ESPN

Game 4

Monday, April 23 | Oklahoma City at Utah | 9:30 p.m. | TNT

Game 5

Wednesday, April 25 | Utah at Oklahoma City | If necessary

Game 6

Friday, April 27 | Oklahoma City at Utah | If necessary

Game 7

Sunday, April 29 | Utah at Oklahoma City | If necessary

the winner of the Oklahoma City-Utah series will get the winner of the Houston Rockets-Minnesota Timberwolves series. Houston won the regular season series against Minnesota 4-0, by an average of 15.8 points per game. Jimmy Butler did play in three of those games. It’s the first time since 2004 Minnesota has made the playoffs. It’s the first time in franchise history Houston is the No. 1 seed.

 

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Thunder Game Day No. 82: vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder (47-34, 20-20 away)

at

Memphis Grizzlies (22-59, 6-34 away)

Wednesday, April 11 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 16½-point favorite. The over/under is 211½.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Grizzlies: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Welcome to the final day of the 2017-18 NBA regular season! The Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that weirdly enough has a lot of meaning.
  • Oklahoma City hasn’t lost at home to Memphis since Nov. 7, 2014.
  • The Thunder need a victory to move into the fourth seed, but they’ll need help Utah has to lose to in Portland tonight. If that happens, Oklahoma City will host the Jazz.
  • If Oklahoma City wins and the Jazz win, Oklahoma City will be the sixth seed. They’ll travel to Utah for the first round.
  • If the worst happens, and Oklahoma City loses, they’ll be the eighth seed and go to Houston.
  • Oklahoma City finished their death march, 11 straight games vs. teams .500 or better 5-6, which is better than some predicted.
  • Russell Westbrook also needs 16 rebounds to become the first person in NBA history to have two seasons of a triple-double average. He’ll also be the first person who would have back-to-back seasons with the triple-double average.
  • Westbrook has two triple-doubles in both games he played against Memphis this season.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES

  • The Memphis Grizzlies are 22-59 on the season, 14th place in the Western Conference.
  • Over their last 10 games, Memphis is 3-7.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Grizzlies are 1-9, including four straight.
  • In their previous game, Memphis lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-94 on Monday night.
  • In their all-time history, Oklahoma City is 59-26 against Memphis.
  • Since relocation for the Thunder, Oklahoma City is 22-14.
  • Surprisingly, despite the large point spread tonight, neither team has been favored by 10 points or more in the series.
  • Oklahoma City is 12-5 against Memphis at the Peake, winning five straight.
  • The last loss at home to the Grizzlies: Nov 7, 2014, the injury plagued season.
  • Oklahoma City goes for the four-game season sweep. It would be the first season sweep in the series by either team.
  • Oklahoma City beat Memphis 121-114 on Feb. 14, a large comeback in the fourth quarter led to the victory.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Tyreke Evans (Personal) is out.
    Marc Gasol (rest) is out.
    JaMychal Green (knee) is out.
    Andrew Harrison (wrist) is out.
    Wayne Selden Jr. (knee) is out.
    Jarell Martin (ankle) is out.
    Chandler Parsons (knee) is out.
    Mike Conley (heel) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Memphis came on Dec. 8, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 125-88 (37-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (34 points) vs. Memphis occurred during a 114-80 loss on Dec. 19, 2016.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out for the season.
  • Alex Abrines (concussion) is out.

Playoff Scenarios

  • There are three playoff scenarios remaining for the Thunder. They’ll need help. Here they are:
  • Thunder win + Utah win over Portland = Oklahoma City 4th seed and would host the Jazz in the first round.
  • Thunder win + Portland win over Utah = Oklahoma City 6th seed and would travel to Utah in the first round.
  • Oklahoma City loss to Memphis tonight = Oklahoma City 8th seed and would travel to Houston in the first round.

WHAT’S IN A GRIZZLIES NAME

  • When Vancouver was awarded an expansion franchise in 1994 to begin play the following season, the team’s owners had tentative plans to name the team the Mounties.
  • The Royal Mounted Canadian Police and fans alike objected, so team officials resumed their search for a name. The local newspaper sponsored a name-the-team contest, which club officials monitored before choosing Grizzlies, an indigenous species to the area, over Ravens.
  • When the team relocated to Memphis before the 2001-02 season, FedEx was prepared to offer the Grizzlies $100 million to rename the team the Express, but the NBA rejected the proposal.



Three Keys to the Game

Bench

Though the bench is 29th in scoring, they’ve been key down the stretch. They were large on Monday night in the comeback against Miami. They were big against Houston. The starters should dominate tonight. Oklahoma City needs the bench to keep the tide the way it is.

Efficiency is key

Oklahoma City is 31-4 when when they outshoot their opponent. Oklahoma City comes out, shoot better, they’re most likely going to run away with this. It’s huge for Memphis to win games. The Grizzlies are 3-49 when they’re outshot by their opponents. Surprisingly enough, the Thunder have been outshot in two of the three games. Cannot give these back ups a real chance. Shoot well.

Rebound

Oklahoma City has to win the rebounding battle tonight. The Thunder are 34-11 when they have the same or more rebounds as their opponents. They’re a fun 13-23 when they lose the rebounding battle. Plus, we want to see Westbrook go bananas.

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Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff Seeding Scenarios

So, step one is done. Oklahoma City is in the playoffs. Now, where will they be? That’s the big question.

On Wednesday night, Oklahoma City will play the Memphis Grizzlies, there are TONS of options going forward. We’re going to do our best to breakdown every Thunder scenario.

You want a real big cliff notes: If Utah splits and Oklahoma City beats Memphis, Oklahoma City is the four. If OKC loses, they’re most likely eighth. If the Thunder win against Memphis they’ll finish no lower than sixth.

However, there are a billion other breakdowns, so let’s just jump into it.

If you know of any scenarios I missed, please tweet us with scenarios, we’ll add it.

8th Seed

If Oklahoma City loses to Memphis, this is where they’re going. This is what they deserve for losing to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Minnesota (1-3) and Denver (1-2) both own the tiebreakers over Oklahoma City. So, the winner of their will jump Oklahoma City. It’s assuming Utah split, losing to Portland:

4. Utah
5. New Orleans/San Antonio winner
6. Denver/Minnesota winner
7. New Orleans/San Antonio loser
8. Oklahoma City

 

Even if Utah drops both games, here’s what it would look like and New Orleans won

4. New Orleans
5. Minnesota/Denver winner
6. Utah
7. San Antonio
8. Oklahoma City

7th seed

It’s really tough for Oklahoma City to get the seventh seed. One way has to happen exactly like this:

  • OKC loses to Memphis
  • NOLA loses to San Antonio
  • Utah beats Portland
  • Minnesota beats Denver

In this instance, the Standings would be like this

  1. Houston
  2. Golden State
  3. Utah
  4. Portland
  5. San Antonio
  6. Minnesota
  7. Oklahoma City
  8. New Orleans

This happens because in the three-way tie, the combined record of Minnesota, OKC and NOLA Head-to-head comes out like this:

  • Minnesota: 4-0 vs. NOLA | 3-1 vs. OKC = 7-1
  • Oklahoma City 1-3 vs. MIN | 1-2 vs. NOLA = 2-5 (Western Conference 27-25)
  • New Orleans 0-4 vs. MIN | 2-1 vs. OKC = 2-5 (Western Conference 26-26)

Oklahoma City sneaks to the seventh spot by their win over the Houston Rockets, essentially.

Another option is if Utah loses both games and the Thunder lose and San Antonio wins

4. San Antonio
5. Minnesota/Denver winner
6. Utah
7. Oklahoma City
8. New Orleans

6th seed

There are a couple of different scenarios for Oklahoma City end up sixth, even with wins.

Utah loses both and Oklahoma City beats Memphis, it’ll look like this

4. New Orleans/San Antonio
5. Minnesota/Denver
6. Oklahoma City
7. Utah
8. New Orleans

If Utah splits but beats Portland and OKC wins:

3. Utah
4. Portland
5. San Antonio/New Orleans
6. Oklahoma City

5th seed

If the Thunder beat the Grizzlies and the Jazz go 0-2, they creates a bit of a logjam in the middle again, obviously.

Here’s the first scenario with a Minnesota win:

4. San Antonio/New Orleans winner
5. Oklahoma City
6. Minnesota
7. Utah
8. San Antonio/New Orleans loser

With a Denver win:

4. San Antonio/New Orleans winner
5. Oklahoma City
6. Utah
7. Denver
8. San Antonio/New Orleans loser

4th seed

This one is a little bit clear cut as the Thunder need to win against Memphis and have the Jazz split beat either the Warriors or the Blazers, while losing the other one. Completely possible as the Warriors may be resting to get their guys ready for the playoffs. Portland may have more to play for as they lost to Denver on Monday night.

If OKC wins, San Antonio/New Orleans winner, and Utah beats Golden State but loses to Portland

4. Oklahoma City (5-3 vs. UT/SA; 4-3 vs. UT/NO)
5. Utah (4-4 vs. OKC/SA; 4-4 vs. OKC/NO)
6. San Antonio (3-5 vs. OKC/UT)/ New Orleans (3-4 vs. OKC/UT)

3rd seed

Oklahoma City cannot claim the third seed as Portland owns the 4-0 head-to-head tie-breaker with the Thunder.

2nd seed

Golden State has locked this up as they’re 11 games up in the standings on the Thunder.

1st seed

Houston has this locked up as they own a 17½-game advantage on the Thunder.

 

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!