Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder Preview and Predictions -03-11-2020
When and where: March 11, 2020, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK, 8:00 PM ET
A Western Conference showdown between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder should whet the appetites for fans eager to see playoff basketball. It’s essentially a meeting between the fourth and fifth-ranked teams in the conference. Monday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors snapped a five-game winning streak for the Jazz. The Thunder, on the other hand, have won their last three straight games against the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons.
Gobert threatening to earn next ejection
It’s safe to say Jazz center Rudy Gobert wasn’t too pleased with being tossed from Monday’s game against the Raptors after getting into a verbal altercation with OG Anunoby. The Jazz can only hope his threats after the game were more about him blowing off steam than something he’s seriously considering doing.
“I don’t think it makes sense to me. But next time, I’ll do justice myself so the official can eject me for a reason,” Gobert said after the game, via ESPN.com.
With the Jazz vying for a playoff spot, the last thing they need is one of their best players being ejected or suspended for an important game down the stretch. The team has to figure out a way to get Gobert thinking more along the lines of the team instead of individual vendettas.
Despite being 6-point favorites, the Jazz got thumped in their home building in a 101-92 loss to the Raptors. We’ll see if they can bounce back in another tough defensive fight on the road against the Thunder.
The Jazz are currently ranked sixth in the league in offensive efficiency with opponents averaging 100.7 points in their last three outings. Their offense should be the lightning to Oklahoma City’s thunder in this much-anticipated tilt. The Thunder are sitting pretty with the league’s 10th-ranked defense.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this game is how well-rounded the two teams are this season. Along with boasting a top-10 scoring offense, the Jazz have a top-10 scoring defense capable of wreaking havoc on the league’s best offenses.
Thunder strikes down the Celtics
There will come a time and place when people stop underestimating the Thunder.
Not only did they cover as 6.5-point dogs, but they knocked off the Celtics at the TD Garden in a 105-104 victory. The win marked the third for the Thunder and kept them in the hunt for Utah’s No. 4 seed in the Western Conference standings.
They can continue to build on that opportunity in Wednesday’s run-in with the Jazz. Their greatest concern, however, is facing a Jazz team that ranks second in the league in 3-point shooting percentage. Oklahoma City boasts the seventh-best 3-point shooting defense with opponents averaging only 34.4 percent from long distance.
On the defensive end of the floor, teams are only averaging 108.3 points per game this season. The Jazz could be singing to a different tune if the Thunder gets their defensive clutches on them. But it won’t be easy considering the Jazz are one of the best road teams in basketball.
The Utah Jazz are an American professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jazz compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league’s Western Conference, Northwest Division. Since 1991, the team has played its home games at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The franchise began play as an expansion team in 1974 as the New Orleans Jazz (as a tribute to New Orleans’ history of originating Jazz music). The Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979.
The Jazz were one of the least successful teams in the league in their early years. Although 10 seasons elapsed before the Jazz qualified for their first playoff appearance in 1984, they did not miss the playoffs again until 2004. During the late 1980s, John Stockton and Karl Malone arose as the franchise players for the team, and formed one of the most famed point guard–power forward duos in NBA history. Led by coach Jerry Sloan, who took over from Frank Layden in 1988, they became one of the powerhouse teams of the 1990s, culminating in two NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998, where they lost both times to the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan.
Both Stockton and Malone moved on in 2003. After missing the playoffs for three consecutive seasons the Jazz returned to prominence under the on-court leadership of point guard Deron Williams. However, partway through the 2010–11 season, the Jazz began restructuring after Sloan’s retirement and Williams’ trade to the New Jersey Nets. Quin Snyder was hired as head coach in June 2014.
Under Snyder’s leadership, the Jazz have experienced success. The franchise qualified for the playoffs for three consecutive years from 2017–2019 with players such as Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley Jr. and Donovan Mitchell as centerpieces.