Who’s Leading in the OKC Thunder vs Utah Jazz Series 2018 NBA Western Conference Playoffs
Western Conference predictions.
With the NBA Playoff’s tipping of today, April 15th, the Utah Jazz looks to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in their home court for Round 1 of the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City held a 3-1 advantage this season, with each of the four games being played before Christmas. The teams have not met since December 23, well before Utah’s 29-6 close to the regular season. Overall, the Jazz are 12-27 vs. the Thunder since that franchise moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle in 2009. The Jazz went 66-79 against the Seattle Supersonics.
Oklahoma City will attempt to build on their 3 game win streak after their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, 137 – 123; Russell Westbrook 1st with two triple-double seasons. Paul George scored a team-high, forty points, during their last game against the Grizzlies. In 34 minutes, George collected forty points, two assists, four rebounds, two steals, one block and eight threes with 2 turnovers. Utah on the other hand, lost their last game to the Portland Trail Blazers, 102 – 93; Damien Lillard leads Blazers to 3rd in West. Donovan Mitchell scored a team-high, seventeen points, during their last game against the Trail Blazers. In 33 minutes, Mitchell collected seventeen points, five assists, six rebounds, two steals and one three with 2 turnovers.
Still, The Thunder and Jazz finished with identical records this season but because of a tie-breaker, home-court advantage was given to OKC. That may not hold well for the Jazz as they’ve lost 14 games in a row in Oklahoma City and opened as 3.5-point dogs.
Ricky Rubio vs. Russell Westbrook
Any conversation about this series has to start with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double—25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 10.3 assists—for the second straight season. Westbrook, who had the third-highest usage rate in the NBA (after Houston’s James Harden and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid), controls OKC’s offense, and he’ll most likely be guarded by the duo of Ricky Rubio and Royce O’Neale. Rubio, who’s making his first career playoff appearance, set career highs in points, 3-pointers. Since the All-Star break, he has averaged 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 3-pointers—all while shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 87.5 percent from the line.
Joe Ingles vs. Paul George
Ingles ranked No. 4 in the NBA in 3FG% (.440) and No. 10 in 3-pointers made, and he was one of just four players to finish with 200 3-pointers, 300 rebounds and 300 assists. The others were Harden, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. George flew under the radar playing alongside Westbrook, but he still averaged 21.9 points and set career highs in 3-pointers (3.1) and steals (2.0) per game. He’s a star player who’s capable of taking over the game.
Rudy Gobert vs. Steven Adams
Rudy Gobert, who was named Second Team All-NBA last season, is the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, and for good reason—he had the best defensive rating of any qualifying player (97.7) this season. OKC’s Steven Adams, though, just happens to be a one of the most rugged and physical centers in the league. Their contrasting styles as they battle to set the tone in the post will be something to watch closely.
I think the series between the Thunder and Jazz will most probably be decided in Game 7, with the Thunder holding a slight edge. The two teams faced off four times during the regular season, with the Thunder winning three of the games.The key for the Thunder is clearly Russell Westbrook, coming off yet another record season. However, Paul George will have to score more than 20 points, as the Thunder are typically successful if that happens. Steven Adams has to lay a body on Rudy Gobert as well.
The No. 5 seed Utah Jazz (48-34) go on the road to take on the No. 4 seed Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34) on Sunday at 6:30 PM ET.