The Oklahoma City Thunder enter tonight’s game coming off a big win vs. the Houston Rockets and James Harden two nights ago. At home vs. a tough Utah Jazz team that’s won seven of its last 10 games will not be an easy one for OKC.
The greatest strength for the Jazz is an obvious one. They have lots of size up front and will look to establish that early and often.
Utah posts up a lot on offense but ranks only in the middle of the pack in the league in terms of efficiency on those plays. Nonetheless they are led by center Al Jefferson that is one of the few centers in the league that can command a double-team in the post.
Jefferson is averaging 16.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game so far this year. You know Kendrick Perkins will be looking forward to this matchup and Perk will likely get more run than usual in tonight’s game.
The other matchup on the inside will be Serge Ibaka vs. Paul Millsap. Ibaka has been playing the best basketball of his career this season averaging 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Millsap is always a tough matchup and can take Ibaka out on the perimeter a little where he will be less comfortable.
The real issue for Utah is how they plan on containing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Gordon Hayward isn’t exactly the ideal defender to put on Durant and Mo Williams will have a tough time staying in front of Westbrook.
The Jazz have been impressive so far this season defending isolation plays and pick-and-roll plays. Their real weakness has been giving up 1.02 points per possession on spot-up shooting plays which is 27th in the league. The Thunder are the 3rd best team in the league on spot-up plays.
Normally Utah wins its games because of its size but the Thunder can match up with them. Adding in the fact that defending Durant and Westbrook well seems unlikely for the Jazz and it’s hard to imagine the Thunder losing this one at home.
The game will tip at 8 p.m. EST.