Utah Jazz (11-25) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Season Series (OKC leads 2-0)
The Jazz have had a few days off after they got beaten down by the Lakers in Los Angeles on Saturday night, 110-99. The Jazz started the game off horribly and couldn’t come back quite enough to win. Tonight, the Jazz are facing one of the hottest teams in the NBA in the Thunder. Looking back to the month of December, the Thunder finished off the month going 14-2 and come into tonight having won 2 in a row.
The Thunder’s most recent victory came in a 119-96 blowout over the Boston Celtics on Sunday. The Thunder were led by Reggie Jackson with 27 points. Jackson is filling in for the re-injured Russell Westbrook. Jackson was also the starting point guard for the Thunder in the first game of the season when these two teams met. Jackson has an incredible stat line against the Jazz this season, whether starting or coming off the bench. In the 2 games against the Jazz this year, Jackson is averaging 12.0 points, 5.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and is shooting 52.6% from the field.
The Jazz have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. In the last 10 games, they are staying about at their average for the season in scoring, averaging 92 points per game. Something that is impressive however about the Jazz over their last 10, 7 of those games were on the road. The other 3 at home, the Jazz came away with the win in all 3 of those games.
Key Matchup : Defending Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is Kevin Durant. You know who he is and what he is going to do. The key to beating the Thunder is stopping him, or at least slowing him down. How do you stop him though? Well if I had the answer I probably would be coaching in the NBA instead of writing about it. However, here is a couple things that could help the Jazz tonight.
Kevin Durant ups his points per game against the Jazz. In the 2 games the Jazz have faced the Thunder this season, Durant is putting up 30.5 points per game. In the 7 losses on the season, Durant’s scoring average drops, but only by about 3 points per game. However, in those losses, Durant is turning the ball over and getting in to foul trouble. Especially if the Jazz get Durant into foul trouble, it gives them a way better shot at beating the Thunder.
Durant is shooting nearly 50% from the field on the season. However, against the Jazz in 2 games this season, Durant’s shooting percentage drops dramatically. Durant is shooting only 36.4% from the field in those 2 games. If you are looking for a particular spot on the floor to make Durant shoot from, you might have a hard time finding a spot that he is not good from. If you look at Durant’s shot chart, it is green all over. There are however 2 spots on the court that are red, but 1 is almost not even worth mentioning.
Durant is shooting 1 for 3, 33% from the left corner 3 this season. The other spot where he has struggled, from the right elbow free throw line extended to just inside the 3 point line. In that small area, Durant is 9 for 26 on the year, making him shoot 34.6%. Durant seems to be unstoppable on the court from anywhere, but it seems like if you can in any way force him to take a shot where the defender wants him to, he has struggled from those areas.
The Jazz are a much improved team from the first 2 times they played the Thunder. The first game, the Jazz didn’t have Trey Burke. The second game, Trey was playing in only his 2nd game off the bench returning from injury in limited minutes. Trey will make a difference, but Jackson is no slacker and Trey will have a tough matchup going against him.
To go along with stopping Durant, if possible, another key for the Jazz is Gordon Hayward. Hayward has been terrible against the Thunder this season. In 2 games, Hayward is only averaging 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and only shooting 27.3% from the field. All of those are well below his season averages.
The Jazz have won 3 straight at home and tonight is the start of another 3 straight home games. How will they fare tonight against a good Thunder team? Let us know below in the comments what you will be looking for in tonight’s game! Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, @Purpleandblues1!
Thunder 102, Jazz 95