Round Table Part II, OKC Thunder – Utah Jazz: x-factors, advantages, predictions

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- DECEMBER 3: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Russell Westbrook
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- DECEMBER 3: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Russell Westbrook /
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OKC Thunder - Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – APRIL 10: Head coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz looks on in the first half of a game against the Golden State Warriors at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 10, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

Question 7:

Every matchup offers its own set of issues or advantages. In your opinion what is the Thunder’s key advantage/weakness and conversely what is the Jazz’ key advantage/weakness.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

OKC Thunder advantage – besides having the top talent (x2)  the Thunder are great scoring in transition and via second chance opportunities. Both situations point to the team’s excellence in rebounding and creating turnovers.  The Jazz are the best defensive squad and only got better as the season progressed. The other key area the Jazz excel at is three point shooting (particularly from the corner).

OKC weaknesses are inconsistency, depth and ball movement. The Jazz weaknesses may surprise; despite having Gobert they are not a particularly strong rebounding team. The obvious issue for the Jazz is offense. More specifically, Utah can’t control pace or stop you defensively it’s an issue because they rank 29th in field goal attempts.

Noah Schulte:

For all of the Jazz’s depth, the one thing they’re missing is a player who can at least slow down Paul George (sorry, Joe Ingles). He is a matchup nightmare for Utah and as long as he doesn’t go rogue like he has at times earlier in his career, he’s one of the key reasons the Thunder can beat the Jazz.

Austin Sternlicht:

The Thunder’s key advantage is their star-power, while their weakness is their top-heavy roster. The Jazz are the exact opposite, with a deep team not featuring a single all-star.

Wil Harrington:

I will go back to star-power here. The Utah Jazz have a great defense, but this Thunder team is built so if you are successfully stopping Adams, George, and Westbrook, Carmelo should be more than capable of burning you; or another combination of that scenario. That said, I cannot see the Jazz containing Westbrook.

Home Court advantage favors the Thunder, but good defense travels well. If Rudy Gobert stifles the Thunder in Oklahoma City, then they are primed to push this series to the limit.

Jordan Buckamneer:

While it would have been entertaining to see OKC match up with the Warriors in round one, the Thunder were fortunate to slid up a few spots and claim home court advantage with the fourth seed and draw a team they beat three times out of four this season. The home court advantage means a lot more to a team that has been struggling throughout the season.

Regardless, the Thunder should have the upper hand simply in talent level and experience. With all due respect to what the Jazz have been able to accomplish this season, the Thunder have a clear advantage in the talent category with the OK3 in addition to Steven Adams and a fiery Corey Brewer. That’s not to say this is a David-versus-Goliath match up with OKC seemingly unbeatable, as Donovan Mitchell and company will give the Thunder a run for their money.

Rudy Gobert is one of the top rim protectors and rebounders in the league, while Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, Dante Exum and Alec Burks combine to make a more well-rounded roster with more options for Quin Snyder to use. Snyder will likely utilize that depth by moving his pieces around to make life difficult on OKC.

 Alex Mcewen:

The Thunder’s key advantage in the opening round of the playoff, they will have the best player in the series, Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City’s key weakness lies in their three-point and free throw shooting. The Thunder finished with the second-worst free throw percentage and ranked 24th in three-point percentage.

Utah’s key advantage will be coaching. I believe Snyder will handily out coach Donovan in the series. The defensive scheme Snyder will impose could disrupt even an elite offense, it should easily rattle OKC’s.

The Jazz’s key weakness will be Rudy Gobert foul trouble. When Gobert is on the court Utah’s defensive rating is 97.7 when Gobert is off it elevates to 105.0. The Thunder should go at Gobert and force the official’s hand.

Stephen Dolan:

We’ve heard it all year – the Thunder are built for the Playoffs. When the game slows down, and the pressure mounts, and the shot clock looms, the Thunder will have the best players on the court to create good shots out of nothing. OKC better hope that’s true, because the best defense in the league is coming to town, and they’re going to need those shots to fall.

Jeremy Lambert:

OKC’s advantage is Westbrook and George. At their peak, the Jazz simply don’t have the firepower to keep up. Their weakness is the shooting of Anthony. Utah’s advantage is their defense. Their weakness is inexperience in their backcourt.

Sinjin Snope:

The main key for the Thunder to gain an edge on this tough Jazz team will be how they attack the paint. If they can finish strong inside, and force Utah defensive anchor Rudy Gobert into frequent foul trouble, I see no scenario in which OKC loses this series. Another key will be running the Jazz shooter’s off of the three point line, a place where they have feasted all season long. If the Thunder do those things, they should be moving on to the next round.