The Utah Jazz are, effectively, in a do-or-die Game 2.— Amar (@AllThatAmar) April 18, 2018
None of us expected this on July 5th.
That’s right, boys and girls. The Utah Jazz—the Utah Jazz who many thought were doomed to pick 10th in the draft, left with a bunch of spare parts and Rudy Gobert—are in a must-win situation in the playoffs. Oh, there will be other games if they lose, but digging out of an 0-2 hole is tough.
As of now, though, all is not lost. If the Jazz win, they’ll steal homecourt advantage from the Thunder.
Reasons to Hope:
The Jazz actually played OKC pretty well on Sunday. Did it ever feel like they were in control besides when they were up 16-4? Nah, not really. But that was because we were introduced to Playoff Paul George. Russell Westbrook deferred to his teammate, who shot lights-out. He’s still going to be PG13, but it’s hard to imagine Quin Snyder adjusting his defensive schemes to contain him at least a little.
Secondly, Utah missed a ton of shots that they usually hit. Open shots. Layups. Joe Ingles three-pointers. A few more of those have to go in. Right? In Quin Snyder we trust!
Reasons to Worry:
Sure, the Jazz need to contain Paul George. But know who else they need to contain? That’s right, they need to check Russell “I-don’t-care-about-stats” Westbrook. They did a decent job of turning Russell into a jump shooter on Sunday, but that’s not an easy task.
Steven Adams is a beast. Assuming his hand is okay, he’ll still be a beast tonight. He can and does push and grab Rudy Gobert in the paint, and the referees have mostly swallowed their whistles so far. One thing that sometimes hurts the Stifle Tower is discouragement with officiating. He lets it affect his game at times.
This is a mixture of good and bad news, but I’m putting it in the “worry” section because without Donovan we are toast.
When: Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018 •6 PM MT
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena • Oklahoma City, OK
TV: NBATV, AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Donovan Mitchell - foot contusion - probable
Thabo Sefolosha - knee - out for season
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Paul George - hip contusion - questionable, but there’s no way he doesn’t play.
Andre Roberson - knee - out for season
What to Watch For: Defense
The Jazz did what they needed to do defensively. They scared OKC out of the paint to a reasonable degree and forced a lot of midrange jumpers. They’re going to have to put the clamps down even more, though, and chase PG off the 3pt line. And don’t forget about Carmelo Anthony. Basically, the Jazz need to not let OKC shoot so many threes. Easy, right?
Another thing to watch for is the play of Joe Ingles. He didn’t shoot well on Sunday, and the Jazz don’t win when Joe has a bad night.
Most Likely Jazz Killer
Welp. How do you not pick Paul George for this? He killed the Jazz last game, and he’s the hardest player to match up with on OKC’s team. But hey, if they can contain him to even 20 points instead of 36 then the Jazz have a shot.