NBA Regular Season: Utah Jazz (9-7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (12-4) -- Game Preview

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Game #17 • Chesapeake Energy Arena • Oklahoma City, OK • November 30, 2012 • 6:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM and 1600 AM ESPN Deportes

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 17:

Utah Jazz (9-7) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (12-4)

#UTAatOKC Game Stream -- Welcome to Loud City (SB Nation Blog) -- Jazz vs Thunder coverage

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The Basics:

The Oklahoma City Thunder represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals last year, and look to be among the top teams in the NBA this year as well. There wasn't much wrong with them, after all they were in the Finals, but they manged to shake things up. They were gifted Perry Jones III in the draft (fell to #28), signed free agent Hasheem Thabeet, signed, waved, and then signed again Daniel Orton, and . . . uh . . . traded away James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Dawquan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and three future picks (two 1st rounders). They were a very good team last year, and they appear to be great this year.

Serge Ibaka is better than ever and now has three point range. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are fresh off their Gold Medal experience. Eric Maynor is healthy. Nick Collison continues to bruise guys, and Kendrick Perkins still never smiles. And that Kevin Martin dude is shooting 45 / 49 / 94 this year off the bench. He's scoring 16 ppg off the bench. Our #1 option, Al Jefferson, is scoring 16 ppg and has far and away played the most minutes on the team and taken the most shots.

Yeah. Well, we played them once in the preseason, and they didn't have a few of their starters, and we won. So, anything is possible.

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History:

The Jazz and Thunder played three times last year, with the Jazz:

As our franchises go, the Jazz are 72 up and 88 down against Seattle/OKC, and a pretty pathetic 26 and 54 in our road games. Those old Sonic / Jazz games were fun in the 70s and 80s, and we started to really kick their butt in the late 90s . . . but since the new era of Durant, we've had all sorts of trouble with them. Particularly on dribble penetration defense and three point close outs. So. Yeah. I see the future -- and I see what types of things OKC will try tonight . . . it's dribble penetration and three point shots.

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The Game:

OKC is rolling right now, having won three in a row, 6 of their last 7, and 11 of their last 13. And well, 12 of their last 16. So. They are winning. They've lost to the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies -- physical teams that defend well. We played both of those teams and didn't do horribly. We can mitigate some of their firepower by lowering the pace and trying to be physical. But we don't have the 'rep' with the refs for being a strong defensive club, so a lot of our physical defense will probably be turned into fouls. So, well, we could do what other teams have done to OKC -- but it may work against us.

The Jazz aren't rolling right now, but have won 5 of their last 6. The quality of the opponents we've beaten haven't been great, but hey at least we're winning. That makes us winnars! That means we are okay, and no need to change anything! Right? RIGHT? I think that's what it means.

Utah plays tomorrow night in Houston, so this is the first game of a back to back set. It's going to be fun.

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Word from the Badguys:

I tried calling my friend in Seattle, but he didn't pick up. #BURN

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X-Factors:

Bench scoring -- we're know our starters are going to poop the bed (it's what they do), so it's going to be up to our starters to save our butts. As usual. Until the 3rd when our starters usually come out and play great. But for the entire game, our only advantage could be the bench.

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As an aside:

At least we don't have to worry about James Harden . . . until tomorrow night . . .

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win, for basketball reasons. Specifically, the other team is a better basketball team than we are.

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