The Utah Jazz play the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night in Salt Lake City. The Jazz will most likely be playing their 3rd to last game of the season, the play-in tournament is just about set, the 36-43 Jazz are 1 ½ games behind the 10th-seed Thunder. The Thunder are 2 games behind the Timberwolves for home-court advantage in the 9/10 seed game. With the season coming to a close, this will be the time for our young players to showcase their talents before going into the off-season.
The Jazz are coming off of an incredible Overtime loss against the Lakers on Tuesday, Talen Horton-Tucker and Ochai Agbaji continue to shine in their post trade extended minutes. Talen added 23 points and 7 assists and Ochai added 22 points while shooting 4-8 from 3. Kelly Olynyk had a near triple-double with 23, 7, and 7. The thing we all expected was Luka Samanic shooting 2-3 from three and legitimately playing solid defense on Lebron at times.
The point of adding this recap is to highlight the fact that there are multiple young players on this Jazz team thriving in bigger roles, they will have another opportunity to do that Thursday night as the Jazz have another extensive injury list.
Jazz Injury Report (as of 4/5):— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 5, 2023
OUT - Lauri Markkanen (left hand contusion)
OUT - Collin Sexton (left hamstring - injury maintenance )
OUT - Jordan Clarkson (left hand - fourth finger sprain)
OUT - Rudy Gay (low back soreness)
OUT - Walker Kessler (concussion protocol)
This OKC team has consistently been one of the more fun teams to watch this season, like the Jazz this team is rarely out of a game due to simply trying hard at all times. despite being the youngest team in the league with an average age of 23.14 this team has exceeded expectations, while their number 2 pick (Chet Holmgren) hasn’t played a game this season due to a foot injury suffered last summer. The Thunder are led by All-NBA candidate Shai Gilgeous Alexander, having the best season of his life Shai is averaging over 31 points, just under 5 rebounds, and just over 5 assists. He’s also been one of the more clutch players this season, hitting multiple game winners, and hitting 90% from the free throw line in crunch time. Seems like the only thing Shai does wrong is where those hideous boots.
When watching these two teams it’s hard to not notice some similarities in where they are at.
1. Star player acquired in a trade after bowing up current roster *Shai was traded for Paul George back in 2019 *Lauri was traded for Donovan Mitchell this last summer
2. Both Jazz and Thunder have 15+ first-round picks in their bag
3. Both teams rely on strong development teams that help their late-round picks and undrafted players overachieve. (Luguentz Dort and Royce O’Neale come to mind)
It may seem like the Jazz don’t have much to play for at this point in the season they’re injured, they’re nearly locked into the 9th worst record in the league, they’re playing game 80 out of 82. There’s still a 100% chance this game will end up close and extremely fun, it doesn’t matter who the team is, this Jazz team is bound to make us proud Thursday night. They’re on a 79-game streak of doing just that.
What: Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Thursday, April 6th @ 7 PM
TV: AT&T Sports Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM and 1280 AM on the Zone sports network