It’s been eight months since the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder met in the playoffs last season. After such a promising playoff victory in the first round, the Jazz expected the team to be facing the Thunder with a better record at this point. With nearly the exact same team that took down Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and most of the team either in their prime or getting closer to it, the Jazz have not taken advantage of their chemistry and experience they carried over from last year.
Currently sitting at 13th in the Western Conference, and with a 13-14 record, the Jazz have 27 games under their belt trying to figure out their identity. Sure, the schedule has been tough, and things don’t get easier with a road game on the back end of a back-to-back tonight, but Utah needs to figure out who they are soon.
The trade for Kyle Korver has given the Jazz a much needed boost and lifted their offense from 27th to 21st since the trade happened (according to NBA.com). But as dismal as the offense has seemed at times this season, the defense has probably been more disappointing.
Currently 12th in the league, the Jazz should have had a better defense this season. Yes, the emphasis on freedom of movement has changed things, and the Jazz schedule HAS been brutal, but the Jazz had continuity from last season that, even if the offense struggled, the defense should not have.
Can the Jazz get back to that elite defensive level tonight against the Thunder who currently sit at #2 in the west?
When: 6:00 PM MT • Monday, December 10, 2018
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena • Oklahoma City, OK
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Sun
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Andre Roberson — Knee — OUT
What to watch for
Can the Jazz second unit stop giving up massive runs?
When Rudy Gobert was unfairly targeted by officials against the Rockets and left the game, the Jazz did something they haven’t done all season with Gobert off the floor, they won.
When Gobert sits this season the Jazz have given up huge runs. Last night against the Spurs, with Gobert off the floor, the Spurs went on a huge 18-0 run. In their frustrating loss against Miami, the Jazz gave up a 13-0 run.
Even in wins the second unit has given up big runs. In the Charlotte victory, hot shooting by Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver made up for a 14-2 run in the second quarter by the Hornets.
It’s no surprise to Jazz fans how good Rudy Gobert is. These types of things are usually the problems of having super stars in the league. Maybe that’s how Utah has to look at Gobert? His ability to dominate the game on both sides of the floor is impressive. The question for the Jazz now is, can they figure out how to win without their stuper star on the floor?