The Utah Jazz (41-23) are hitting the road again, and this is a big one. They’re visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24) with one game’s separation between the two in the standings. The season series is at 1-1, meaning if the Jazz lose tonight the best they can do is force a stalemate in the primary tiebreaker with the Thunder.
After a middling performance against the defending champ Toronto Raptors at home the last time out, Utah will need to pick it up tonight to beat the Thunder, who are 7-2 since the all-star break, in their place. The good news is OKC is only 20-13 at home this season, so it isn’t a daunting home court advantage.
When: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 •6:00 PM MT
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Tony Bradley in the spotlight?
Rudy Gobert is currently listed as questionable for tonight with an illness. It would be Gobert’s third missed game of the season. With Ed Davis having fallen out of the rotation and losing his spot to Tony Bradley, it would stand to reason that Bradley would step into the starting lineup. Bradley started the two previous games missed by Gobert, a win at home over the New Orleans Pelicans and a loss at the Milwaukee Bucks, and played about 22 minutes in each game. We’ve seen Juwan Morgan play center for Quin Snyder in brief stretches, but it would be a surprise if he went with that to start.
Regardless of who starts, Bradley is surely going to shoulder more of a load than his average of 10.7 minutes per game this season. He’s had some great performances off the bench recently and Monday night may have been the best game of his career (5 pt, 4 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk in 16 minutes, a +17 in a 9-point loss). How he responds to the elevated workload could go a long way in determining this game if Rudy does sit.
Fortunately, we’ve seen Bradley developing some great chemistry with Mike Conley in the Conley plus bench lineups we’ve seen recently. Perhaps that carries over if they share starters’ minutes.
Battle of the sixth men
The last time the Jazz played the Thunder, Jordan Clarkson was still a Cleveland Cavalier. His effect on the team has been discussed extensively, and tonight he’ll go up against OKC’s Dennis Schroder, who most consider the favorite for Sixth Man of the Year.
Schroder is averaging 19 points and 4 assists per game for the Thunder this season and has been crucial to their post-break success. It will be up to Utah’s perimeter players, Clarkson included, to limit his impact on the game.
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