Jazz to face Thunder in First Round Matchup

The Utah Jazz will start the postseason on the road at Oklahoma City this weekend, after falling to the Portland Trailblazers 102-93 on Wednesday night. After an impressive offensive outing against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, the Jazz couldn’t find any rhythm against the Blazers defense. The Jazz finished the night shooting just 37% from the floor, and 34% from the three-point line.

The Jazz finished tied for the Western Conference’s 4th best record, but will drop to 5th in the playoff seeding due to NBA tiebreaker rules. The Jazz lost the season series 3-1 to the Thunder, but last played the on December 23, long before the Jazz found their groove heading into the All-Star Break.

The Thunder enter the postseason having won three straight games, but are just 6-4 over their last 10 games, with several key losses that would have allowed them to earn the 3rd seed. Russell Westbrook again achieved the seemingly impossible, as his 20 rebound performance upped his rebounding average to double digits for the second straight season, making him the first player in NBA history to average a triple double in multiple seasons.

The Thunder are the league’s 7th best offensive team with an offensive rating of 110.4, and are the league’s 9th best defensive team with a rating of 107. Conversely, the Jazz are the league’s 16th best offensive team with a rating of 108.6, and the league’s best defensive team with a rating of 103.9.

Where as Portland displayed a dynamic assortment of shot making from beyond the arch, and in the paint, the Thunder who were the 7th worst three point shooting team this year, will rely more heavily on getting to the free-throw line, where they took the 6th most attempts of any team in the NBA this season.

The Jazz will be best served attempting to prevent Paul George from beating them, who is the team’s most efficient wing scorer, and will have to live with Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony field goal attempts, who are two of the Thunder’s five least efficient scorers.

Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell will have to avoid an outing like the one he had in Portland. The Jazz star rookie finished with a lowly 17 points on 6-23 shooting.

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