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Jazz roll into OKC to face Thunder

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Can the Jazz bounce back after a tough home loss?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After boatracing the Portland Trail Blazers, the Jazz (1-1) went cold from the field and gave up a very winnable game at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have a chance for redemption tonight against an Oklahoma City Thunder squad (1-0) who, after a wild offseason, are headlined by young phenom Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, journeyman shooting guard and former Jazzman George Hill, and veteran big man Al Horford.

The Thunder were unable to play their most recent game against the Houston Rockets due to COVID-19 concerns. In their opener against the Charlotte Hornets, they looked ready to coast to victory before giving up a furious 18-5 run led by Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier. They were able to pull the game out, however, on a jumper by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 1.4 seconds left.

Game Info

When: Monday, December 28th, 2020 • 6:00 PM MDT

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: AT&T Sportsnet - FOX Sports Oklahoma

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone

What to Watch For

Backcourt Battle

NBA: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma Thunder Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz have the edge here. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell should be able to beat Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and George Hill on the offensive end and contain them on defense. It should be noted, though, that the Thunder probably don’t want SGA spending much time guarding Conley. Instead, they will likely switch their wings onto him in an attempt to make Mitchell the sole focus of the offense.

Keeping SGA off the free-throw line and forcing him into low-percentage shots is the key to stymying the Thunder backcourt. Conley played fairly well in his first two games, while Donovan’s numbers were a bit more pedestrian. Getting more production out of him tonight would go a long way towards a comfortable Jazz win.

Can the Thunder Keep Rudy Out of the Paint?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder frontcourt of Al Horford, Darius Bazley, Mike Muscala, and Trevor Ariza are all players who can space the floor. Look for the Thunder to get these guys some open looks early in an attempt to lure Rudy Gobert away from the basket. Royce O’Neal and Bojan Bogdanovic will need to be prepared to play solid perimeter defense tonight.

Poll

Score Predictions

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Jazz win by 10+
    (281 votes)
  • 23%
    Jazz win by less than 10
    (111 votes)
  • 12%
    Thunder win by less than 10
    (58 votes)
  • 3%
    Thunder win by 10+
    (15 votes)
465 votes total Vote Now