Tag - road

Thunder Playoff Game Day No. 6: at Utah Jazz

Utah leads series 3-2

Wednesday, April 27 :: 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: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 6½-point underdogs. The over/under is 207.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • With a historic comeback in Game 5, the Oklahoma City Thunder set their sights on leveling the series tonight.
  • With a victory, Oklahoma City will force the fourth Game 7 in franchise history. Their last Game 7 came against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
  • There were a lot of Thunder digits on the Game 5 victory
  • Oklahoma City is 5-4 all-time in Game 6s. When Game 6 is on the road, the Thunder are 4-1.
  • It’s the first time the Thunder have reached a Game 6 after trailing 3-1.
  • Utah is 2-2 in Game 6s since 2001, including blowing a 3-2 lead last season to the LA Clippers.

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 ESPN 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 8.4 offensive rebounds per game in this series. That would put them 28th 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 wins, Oklahoma City is averaging 19.5 second chance points and only 9.7 second chance points per game in 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. Two of the three exploded in Game 5. Is there another opportunity to do it in Game 6? Oklahoma City needs all three to step up and perform the way they can.

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Thunder 107, Jazz 99: What they said after Game 5

The Oklahoma City Thunder completed one of the biggest NBA comebacks in playoff history in Game 5, rallying back to beat the Utah Jazz 107-99. It was the fourth largest comeback in NBA playoff history, and the actual largest comeback in Thunder franchise history.

The Jazz own a 3-2 series lead.

Oklahoma City looked dead in the water, beginning late in the second quarter, and came out absolutely flat early in the second half. The Jazz were clicking on all cylinders, especially with their outside shooting.

Then, midway through the third, Russell Westbrook and Paul George went totally bonkers, combining for 79 total points on the night.

Oklahoma City ended up outscoring Utah 66-43 in the second half.

Here are some key quotes from the teams on Game 5:

Utah’s Quin Snyder:

“Then Rudy went out, and we were fighting it, but we didn’t execute as well as we needed to offensively against the [defensive] switch. Got some good looks, missed them, and then the biggest thing is 37 points in the third quarter. Just let [Thunder] back in the game, and they had confidence and life, we did not do what we needed to do.”

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell:

“We stopped playing defense. We stopped getting back, and our offense got stagnant. They made adjustments, and we did not make the right adjustments back. We’ll watch the film and figure out what went wrong. But from my analysis we just stopped getting back.”

Utah’s Rudy Gobert:

“I got in foul trouble early in the game. Had a few stupid fouls that were on me, and had a fourth foul that was invisible. That was on me, I have to be smarter with three fouls and don’t put my teammates in that position.”

Utah’s Jae Crowder:

“I mean they made an adjustment, and we didn’t continue to get shots for our unit. Not just for me but for our team. They continued to go on a run, and we didn’t get looks that we wanted to get down the stretch. They made an adjustment, we didn’t make adjustments on the fly, and it cost us the game.”

Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan:

“It took a lot of toughness, a lot of resiliency, especially being down 3-1. To keep fighting, to find a way, at the end of the third, to be right there at the end of the game. Give them a lot of credit, we are excited about another opportunity to play, and extend the series. We will have to play a lot better than we did in the first half and we’re going to need a lot more in 48 minutes like we did in the second half.”

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook:

“We just know it is one game at a time. In the playoffs, you got to win on the road if you want to win the series. So, we know what we have to do. Got to go in there and take care of business.”

“Definitely, man, our guys fight all season long. Tonight is one of those nights where our crowd, everyone here in Oklahoma was behind us. We needed every bit of it tonight. Our guys stepped up and made big plays.”

Oklahoma City’s Jerami Grant:

“We always had the capability, we always have the capability of coming back from whatever, with a lot of fire power with [Paul George], Carmelo, and Russ. It was just do or die, and we had a sense of urgency.”

“The crowd was amazing. We fed off their energy and they fed off ours. It was definitely a plus to play here in front of these great fans.”

Oklahoma City’s Raymond Felton:

“I have no words for it. I’ve been in the league 13 years and one of the most amazing games I’ve ever been a part of.”

Up next: Game 6 back in Salt Lake City on Friday at 9:30 p.m. Thunder time on ESPN.

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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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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.
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Thunder Playoff Game Day: at Utah Jazz – Game 3

Series tied 1-1

Saturday, April 21 :: 9:00 p.m. CST ::Vivint Smart Home Arena (19,911)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4½-point underdog. The over/under is 207.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder look to get back on top of a tight series with a win in Utah tonight. If the Thunder fall tonight, the series gets tough. If they win, they take a commanding 2-1 lead with a game back in Oklahoma City potentially close out the series.
  • Utah beat the Thunder 102-95 on Wednesday night in a game that saw Oklahoma City go on a 19-0 and then Utah respond with an 18-3 run of their own. Oklahoma City’s Big Three went 0-of-14 in the fourth quarter, a first this season.
  • The Thunder scored its 10,000th playoff point, one of just three teams to do so since the 2010 postseason (San Antonio, Miami).
  • Russell Westbrook fell one rebound shy of a triple-double with a team-leading 19 points, game-best 13 assists and nine rebounds along with a game-high four steals.
  • Paul George notched his third playoff double-double with 18 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds while blocking three shots.
  • Jerami Grant set new postseason career highs in both scoring and rebounding with a bench-leading 13 points and six rebounds while going 6-for-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 ESPN for the national broadcast. It’s unknown who the broadcast team will be.

SCOUTING THE JAZZ

  • The Utah Jazz finished the regular season 48-34 on the season, fifth in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Utah all finished with the same record. However, the Thunder’s best overall record between the three teams is what secured the Thunder the fourth seed.
  • Over their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Jazz are 7-3.
  • All-time against Utah, the Thunder are 106-78.
  • Since relocation from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 27-12 against the Jazz.
  • When the games are played at the ‘Peake, the Thunder are dominant. They’ve won 14 straight against the Jazz.
  • Utah hasn’t won in Oklahoma City since the arena was named Oklahoma City Arena.
  • The Thunder are 17-2 against the Jazz in the OKC era at home.
  • In the regular season, Oklahoma City won the series, going 3-1 against Utah.
  • You really have to throw the season series out of the window as the last meeting happened on Dec. 23 and the Thunder are a much different team since the loss of Andre Roberson.
  • Oklahoma City is 10-2 against the Jazz dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Dec. 20, 2017, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-79 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 120-99 loss on Oct. 31, 2010

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

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

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.

CONNECTIONS

  • Thabo Sefolosha spent six seasons with the Thunder.
  • Alec Burks Andre Roberson played together at Colorado (2010-11).
  • Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler were teammates in Detroit for three seasons (2012-15).
  • Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder, Jazz Assistant Coach Antonio Lang and Singler all played at Duke.

WHAT’S IN A JAZZ NAME

  • No, Utah isn’t known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979.
  • The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights.
  • Deltas would’ve translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.



Three Keys to the Game

Pace

Utah struggled keeping up with the pace in Game 1. For some reason, the Jazz (25th in pace in the regular season) thought they could keep up with Oklahoma City in transition. It didn’t work. Oklahoma City really forced Utah into some compromising positions as a result. Oklahoma City has to talk them into doing it again. Push the pace. Get Utah uncomfortable.

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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Thunder Playoff Digits: Thunder drop Game 2

It was a slow, methodical game as the Utah Jazz made some crucial adjustments after game 1 to come back and take game 2, 102-95. Utah made the Oklahoma City Thunder work for everything, and it paid off in the fourth as Thunder’s big three did not hit a shot from the floor in the last quarter. Here are some key number’s from Game 2:

14

Westbrook, George, and Melo combined to shoot 0-14 from the floor in the fourth quarter. All three got plenty of open looks in the fourth, but also have to give credit to Utah who played outstanding defense all game. They made the Thunder work for everything, and that definitely took a toll on the Thunder, especially the big three.

15

You never want to blame an outcome of a game on officiating, but you have to at least acknowledge the officiating in this game. Utah Jazz shot 15 more free throws than the Thunder, and it paid dividends. Steven Adams fouled out midway through the fourth, and he was in foul trouble from the very beginning. Oklahoma City is going to have to find a way to get to the free throw line more often in the next games in the series.

33%

As the big three struggled in the fourth, they struggled pretty much all game. They combined to shoot just 33 percent from the floor tonight, only hitting 19 of their 58 attempts. It will be a long and disappointing series if Thunder’s main core can’t shoot better than that.

13

Even in the loss, Jerami Grant was a bright spot. With Adams in foul trouble, Jerami stepped up in a big way. He finished the night with 13 points. Grant’s play will be crucial in this series, as he could be a big help down the stretch.

63%

Donovan Mitchell will get a lot of the credit for Utah’s win tonight, as he should, but Ricky Rubio was just as important. Rubio shot 63 percent from three, hitting five of his eight three-point attempts. That makes the Jazz very hard to guard, as Oklahoma City has to slack off of Rubio to pack the paint against Gobert. Rubio’s outside shooting will be a big deciding factor in the outcome of this series.

10

With Adams on the bench in foul trouble for much of the night, Oklahoma City got dominated on the glass. They got out-rebounded by ten, while also giving up 15 offensive boards. If the Thunder were able to keep the Jazz off the offensive glass, this game might’ve turned out a lot different.

31

To dig deeper in the rebounding category, which was probably the biggest part of this game, Gobert and Favors were monsters on the glass. They were a thorn in Oklahoma City’s side all night, as those two combined for 31 rebounds. They got the Jazz so many extra chances, which was crucial.

19-0

As Utah was in control for much of this game, the Thunder had quite the run in the third quarter as they went on a 19-0 run. It seemed like that would be the game changing event, but Jazz responded with resiliency. Utah did not give up when they went down by ten, rather Mitchell and company took over once that happened.

12

The Utah Jazz just absolutely shut down Oklahoma City in the fourth. Utah outscored the Thunder by 11 in the final quarter, 28-16. Not many games the Thunder will win, especially in the playoffs, when that happens.

1-1

With the Jazz stealing one on the road tonight, the series is all knotted up at 1-1. Game 3 will now be played on Utah’s home floor, as well as game 4. It is definitely going to be physical, dogfight type of series so Oklahoma City is going to have to lock down and play defense if they want to squeeze out wins and get to the next round.

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Thunder Playoff Game Day No. 2: vs. Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City leads series 1-0

Wednesday, April 18 :: 7:00 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 4-point favorite. 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 took Game 1 by a commanding second half performance in which saw the Thunder push their lead out to as many as 18.
  • The Jazz held a 16-4 lead midway through the first quarter until 12 unanswered points from the Thunder tied the game with three minutes remaining. The two teams ended the frame knotted at 25 apiece. After OKC gained a 29-28 advantage in the first two minutes of the second quarter, Utah never held another lead.
  • Oklahoma City is 6-3 when they lead a series 1-0. On the flip side, the Jazz are 6-18 since 1980-81 when they trail a series 1-0. In fact, Utah has dropped six of their last seen when trailing 1-0.
  • Tonight is Oklahoma City’s first ever playoff game on NBATV. This is usually reserved for the least entertaining match up, usually an Eastern Conference team. They’re on it just once.

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 as well.

SCOUTING THE JAZZ

  • The Utah Jazz finished the regular season 48-34 on the season, fifth in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Utah all finished with the same record. However, the Thunder’s best overall record between the three teams is what secured the Thunder the fourth seed.
  • Over their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last 10 road games, the Jazz are 7-3.
  • All-time against Utah, the Thunder are 106-78.
  • Since relocation from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 27-12 against the Jazz.
  • When the games are played at the ‘Peake, the Thunder are dominant. They’ve won 14 straight against the Jazz.
  • Utah hasn’t won in Oklahoma City since the arena was named Oklahoma City Arena.
  • The Thunder are 17-2 against the Jazz in the OKC era at home.
  • In the regular season, Oklahoma City won the series, going 3-1 against Utah.
  • You really have to throw the season series out of the window as the last meeting happened on Dec. 23 and the Thunder are a much different team since the loss of Andre Roberson.
  • Oklahoma City is 10-2 against the Jazz dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Dec. 20, 2017, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-79 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 120-99 loss on Oct. 31, 2010

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

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

JAZZ INJURY REPORT

  • Thabo Sefolosha (knee) is out.
  • Donovan Mitchell (foot) is a game-time decision.

CONNECTIONS

  • Thabo Sefolosha spent six seasons with the Thunder.
  • Alec Burks Andre Roberson played together at Colorado (2010-11).
  • Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler were teammates in Detroit for three seasons (2012-15).
  • Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder, Jazz Assistant Coach Antonio Lang and Singler all played at Duke.

WHAT’S IN A JAZZ NAME

  • No, Utah isn’t known for its Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans in 1974 and club officials decided to keep the name after relocating to Salt Lake City in 1979.
  • The Jazz nickname was originally chosen through a name-the-team contest, which produced seven other finalists: Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights.
  • Deltas would’ve translated to Salt Lake City rather well (the airline of the same name has a hub there), while Cajuns may have been even worse than Jazz.



Three Keys to the Game

Paint scoring

Utah struggled keeping up with the pace in Game 1. For some reason, the Jazz (25th in pace in the regular season) thought they could keep up with Oklahoma City in transition. It didn’t work. Oklahoma City really forced Utah into some compromising positions as a result. Oklahoma City has to talk them into doing it again. Push the pace. Get Utah uncomfortable.

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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Expert series predictions

The Thunder host the Jazz tomorrow and what are all of the “experts” saying on who’s going to win the series? We already know Five Thirty Eight said it is a relatively toss up. So, what are the other experts saying throughout the internet-sphere? Here are some of the more prominent ones:

ESPN

13 of the 22 pick Oklahoma City to top the Jazz in the first round. Unlike last season, where all 30 picked Oklahoma City to lose to Houston, Oklahoma City is the favorite. Home court has a lot to do with it, I’m sure. One thing is for sure, no one picked this series to go less than six games.

  • 8 have Oklahoma City winning in 7 games.
  • 5 have Oklahoma City winning in 6 games.
  • 3 have Utah winning in 7 games.
  • 6 have Utah winning in 6 games.

CBS Sports

Over at CBS, there are only six selectors and they’re split 3-3 on their choices. Every single person has the series going seven games, with three of them thinking Utah could win a Game 7 on the road in Oklahoma City.

  • Reid Forgave: Jazz in 7
  • Brad Botkin: Thunder in 7
  • James Herbert: Jazz in 7
  • Collin Ward-Henninger: Thunder in 7
  • Jack Maloney: Thunder in 7
  • Chris Barnwell: Jazz in 7

USA Today

Another national publication full of highly respected writers. They threw together their opinions, in hopes of our clicks. You’re welcome. We did it. Four journalists tried to reason with one another, giving well thought out reasons why they felt Utah was better than Oklahoma City. Two chose Utah, two chose Oklahoma City. Once again, the series that’s the most even splits the decisions.

  • Sam Amick: Thunder in 6
  • Jeff Zillgitt: Jazz in 6
  • Michael Singer: Thunder in 7
  • AJ Neuhart-Keusch: Jazz in 6

Sporting News

Sporting News might be full of clickbait throughout the season. They’re doing it again with all of the predictions here. Sure, we’re no worse than they are for this. In the past there have been multiple picks but for this, there’s only Sean Deveney.

  • Thunder in 7

There are a lot of sites who are doing previews, than predictions, unlike in the past. Oklahoma City is picked 19 of 33 times. Every single person picked the series to go at least six games. So, I hope you buckle up and getting ready for the long haul.

 

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Westbrook and George don’t condone Davis’ comments

There has been a lot said about what Brian Davis said on Wednesday night. He’s since apoligized and has been suspended for Game 1 against Utah.

many have asked what the players think about and they said on Saturday at practice is that Davis’ remarks aren’t okay

 

“Brian has been here for a while. What he said wasn’t okay,” Westbrook said.” We all understand that.

Davis spoke to the team on thursday after practice, addressing the error of his words.

“It is with great remorse and humility that I accept this suspension for the insensitive words I used during Wednesday’s broadcast. While unintentional, I understand and acknowledge the gravity of the situation. I offer my sincere apology and realize that, while I committed a lapse in judgement, such mistakes come with consequences. This is an appropriate consequence for my actions.”

Davis, 62, has been the Thunder’s TV play-by-play voice since the Thunder’s inaugural season.

The NBA, a place of inclusion and diversity, should not have let this get as far down the road as has. We all have grown to know Davis well. We see him within the city and he’s polite and just so. We all know that he didn’t mean the comment the way it appears. Whether you may not find it offensive, many did. The The Thunder recognize that. However, the suspension is still a surprise to many.

“But he definitely came in and talked to us,” Westbrook said. “The team has made the decision to do what they need to do. We just have to move on from it.”

Paul George also wanted to move on from the situation.

“It happened,” George said. “He owned up. He took it head on. That’s for the front office and him to discuss. They did, so we move on. We move on. We got something bigger to focus on and be worried about. So again, it happened, but we’ll move on.”

Matt Pinto, the official radio voice of the Thunder, will take his place. The radio and TV feed will be simulcasted.

Oklahoma City takes on the Jazz at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

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Three Points and-one from the Enemy: the Utah Jazz

I talked to Mychal Lowman, the Editor-in-Chief of SLC Dunk, arguably one of the best SB Nation sites, about the upcoming first round series. I really wanted to get a Jazz fan’s point of view on the series. While we’re all biased, I wanted to see what they thought about things. So, here are three questions and as Paul George probably fouls him on it, an and-one.

Chuck: A lot has changed for both teams since they last played (Dec. 23, 2017), Andre Roberson has been lost for the season and the Jazz have this rookie who’s going to be Rookie of the Year, really coming into his own. Can we essentially throw out the regular season series because of all of it?

Mychal: I think we have to. Since that December 23rd game the Utah Jazz finished the season 33-15. Contrast that with the OKC Thunder which have finished the season 30-19 since that mark. Since that time, Utah has traded away Rodney Hood and released Joe Johnson. They acquired Jae Crowder from the Cleveland and moved Royce O’Neale full-time into the rotation. Ricky Rubio has found a jump shot. The NBA game has slowed down for rookie Donovan Mitchell which is frightening for opposing teams. Derrick Favors is still healthy. Rudy Gobert is the Defensive Player of the Year. Most importantly, Favors and Gobert have learned how to play effective minutes at the same time.

Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell stopper Andre Roberson is gone which is like giving the Utah Jazz the contra code to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder still boast three All-Stars in Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. Not to mention, Steven Adams seems to best Rudy Gobert on the offensive glass. But now there isn’t an obvious counter to Donovan Mitchell in the Thunder’s rotation unless the Thunder want to wear down Westbrook or George on the defensive end.

These two teams haven’t truly played each other in the current forms which makes this series highly unpredictable.

Chuck: What does Utah have to overcome to beat the Thunder?

Mychal: It seems crazy not to mention the All-Stars, but everyone knows Russell Westbrook and Paul George are going to get theirs. In order to beat the Thunder, the Utah Jazz must overcome Steven Adams. He had a +/- of 18.5 against the Utah Jazz during the season series. The only teams he had a higher +/- against were lottery teams. He seems to own Rudy Gobert. While Kiwi-French relations historically have been cordial, Kiwi-French relations on the basketball court are quite frosty. Gobert only averaged 10.5 points and 9 rebounds against the Thunder the from Down Under. Against the Utah Jazz Steven Adams pushes Rudy Gobert around and has averaged 4.5 offensive rebounds a game. That’s a remarkable number, period, let alone against the Defensive Player of the Year. Those extra possessions are demoralizing and necessary against Utah’s league best defense. If Steven Adams has a big series, Utah doesn’t win this. If Steven Adams has a legendary series, this series is over in 5.

Chuck: What’s Oklahoma City’s greatest weakness the Jazz can exploit?

Mychal: Their playoff experience. The Utah Jazz have been one of the best teams in basketball since January 22nd. Since that time they have rattled off win streaks of 11, 9, and 6. They haven’t lost consecutive games in that stretch. Entering the playoffs, the Utah Jazz are one of the hottest teams in the NBA and they lack playoff experience. Ricky Rubio? Never been. Donovan Mitchell? Rookie. Rudy Gobert? Was in and out of the lineup fighting off an injury sustained in Game 1 of last year’s playoffs against the LA Clippers.

Joe Johnson? Gone. Rodney Hood? Gone. George Hill? Gone. Boris Diaw? Gone. The only players who have played extensive minutes in the playoffs are Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Jae Crowder. That’s it. The Utah Jazz don’t have the veterans with playoff experience anymore. They have the defense, the phenom scorer, the depth, and floor general point guard. The problem is the playoffs are different. Opposing teams can spend hours pouring over film finding your minute weaknesses. Quin Snyder can coach the hell out of Utah, but will these playoff neophytes be able to adjust in time? I’m not optimistic, but this Jazz team has made a habit out of proving people wrong.

Chuck: For an and-one: Give me your most biased prediction

Mychal: Utah is a really good road team this season. That seems weird to say of a team that’s 20-21 on the road, but think about this. Since January 22nd, Utah has only lost two games on the road. They’ve actually lost more games at home over that span of time than on the road. That’s why home court in this matchup means squat. This matchup might even embolden Utah. No expectations of home court. Less pressure. They’re not picked to win. My most biased prediction is Utah wins game one of this series. They go back to Utah and go 1-1. They then win in OKC and close it in Utah in game six. Donovan Mitchell averages 20 points a game, but the real hero of the series is Derrick Favors who destroys Patrick Patterson and Carmelo Anthony at the four spot. Derrick Favors is a free agent in the offseason, and he’d like nothing more than to pad that resume with some playoff highlights and get PAID.

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