OKC Thunder: 5 Deciding factors to win series versus Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 23: Carmelo Anthony
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 23: Carmelo Anthony /
3 of 6
OKC Thunder
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – OCTOBER 21: Carmelo Anthony /

What Melo Shows Up?

Carmelo Anthony is arguably the Thunder’s biggest x-factor. His ability to hit threes and space the floor will be critical to the Thunder’s success. In the four games against Utah, Anthony shot just 38 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three. That can’t happen if the Thunder want to get past Utah.

The good news for the OKC Thunder is that they will have three days rest before games 1, 2, and 3. When Anthony has at least three days of rest before a game, he’s shooting 44 percent from three-point range. Melo vs Jazz power forward Derrick Favors could be the biggest individual matchup in this series. The Jazz love to run a traditional two big lineup with Favors and Gobert. If Melo plays Favors off the floor, that should be a big advantage for the Thunder.

The Jazz will surely focus much of their attention on Russell Westbrook and Paul George, meaning Anthony will have his chances to knock down open shots.

Even if Favors outplays Melo, it may not be the worst thing. Jerami Grant should be a vital player in the this series, as a stretch-five. He can hit open threes, beat bigger players off the dribble, and is strong enough now to hang with low post players. But the Thunder want to be able to use as many players as possible.