OKC Thunder: 3 keys to victory tonight vs. the Utah Jazz

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 26: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts following a go-ahead field goal during the fourth quarter of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on December 26, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 26: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts following a go-ahead field goal during the fourth quarter of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on December 26, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder key No. 2) Win the battle of the guards

Like the OKC Thunder, the Utah Jazz have handed the keys to their franchise to their young shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell.

The 24-year-old is coming into his fourth season in the league, fresh off an All-Star season where he posted impressive averages of 24 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game on 45 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent shooting from deep.

Alongside him in the backcourt is veteran point guard, Mike Conley who, after a reletively underwhelming first season in Salt Lake City, is still trying to prove his worth for the franchise. Though it’s been just two games into the season, he appears hell-bent on making up for a down 2019-20, as he is averaging 19 points, 4.5 rebounds, and three assists per game on 43 percent shooting from the floor.

As alluded to, the parallels between OKC and Utah’s backcourt dynamic is quite evident, as they have their young studs at the two-guard and a savvy veteran at the one.

Generally speaking, in order to give yourself the best opportunity to win a game, zeroing in on stopping the opposing team’s best player should be the first objective on the to-do list.

Tonight’s matchup will see a heavy dosage of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander vs Donovan Mitchell, with a sprinkling of Hill vs Conley in the mix.

Whichever team can wind up winning the battle of the guards will likely find themselves standing victorious once the final buzzer sounds.