The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their first road game tonight in Utah against the Jazz.
Last year the Thunder won three games against the Jazz and lost only once: the first meeting on December 15th.
Oklahoma City at Utah 89-109
Oklahoma City at Utah 95-97
Oklahoma City vs Utah 109-106
Oklahoma City vs Utah 112-104
Keys to the Game
Transition Offense – Last season, Utah was one of the best defensive teams in the League. Despite the loss of Geroge Hill and Gordon Hayward, the Jazz showed in their first two games that they are still a solid defensive team. They gave up only an average of 98 points per game with a defensive rating of 100.1. In order to exploit the Jazz’s defense, and to take advantage of the fact that Utah is on the second night of back to back, the Thunder need to run in transition, spread the floor, and make it difficult for the home team to settle down.
Defense – It will be vital for the Thunder to stop Rudy Gobert in the paint and to keep an eye on Ingles and Hood on the perimeter. Gobert is tall, athletic, and improved a lot offensively during the past couple of seasons. He tends to attack the rim, to grab offensive rebounds, and he is a good roller on the pick and roll. However, Utah can also punish teams from behind the arc. Joe Ingles (7-10 from three this season, 44% last year) and Rodney Hood (5-10 this season, 37.1% last year) will be the major threats.
Pace & Team Basketball – If the Thunder play isolation basketball and at a slow pace there is a good chance they will drop this game. Westbrook did an incredible job during the second half of the game on Thursday against the Knicks: attacked the basket when conceded and moved the ball when the lane was crowded. There were a lot of open shots for George, Anthony, and Abrines when the action didn’t stop in the hands of only one player. The Thunder have a lot of good shooters, they don’t need to pass the ball ten times to get a good open shot, but unless there is a mismatch, iso basketball shouldn’t be the primary option.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1-0)
PPG 105.0 – OPP PTS 84.0
FG% 43.3 – 3PT% 28.9 – FT% 72.7
APG 26.0 – RPG 41.0 – TOV 20.0
Utah Jazz (1-1)
PPG 101.1 – OPP PTS 98.0
FG% 49.4 – 3PT% 39.1 – FT% 87.9
APG 25.5 – RPG 37.0 – TOV 17.0