A pair of Northwest Division rivals renew their acquaintance on the hardwood in the Western Conference playoffs. The fifth-seeded Utah Jazz are on the road as they play Game 5 of their best of seven series against the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday evening. Oklahoma City took Game 1 at home, 116-108, but Utah has taken three straight in the series. The Jazz prevailed 102-95 on the road in Game 2, 115-102 at home in Game 3 and 113-96 at home in Game 4 in a testy atmosphere Monday night. The Thunder leads the all-time regular season series 106-78 and took three of four meetings this season, including a 103-89 win on the road in the last matchup on December 23, 2017. The teams have split four previous playoff series with Utah holding a 15-11 edge in games won.
Utah Jazz Try to Close It Out
Utah has been a team possessed in the last three games as they have taken control of the series by continuing their second half tear. The Jazz did something they couldn’t do last season in the postseason and that’s win at home. Utah took both games in Salt Lake City against Oklahoma City after going 1-4 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in the postseason last year. The Jazz now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the series but can the young team maintain their focus and their poise in what has become an exceedingly physical series?
The Jazz are shooting 46.5 percent from the field as a team in the postseason. Utah is knocking down 11.3 triples a night while draining 36 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. In Game 4, the Jazz hit 45.1 percent from the field and 12 of 34 three point attempts in the game while sinking 19 of 27 free throw attempts. Utah trailed by six after the opening quarter but took control of the game in a four minute span covering the second and third quarters. The Jazz outscored the Thunder 20-3 in that stretch to turn a two point deficit into a 15 point lead: they never led by less than 10 the rest of the way. Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 33 points in the win. Joe Ingles finished with 20 points, including five triples, Rudy Gobert put up 16 points and 10 boards and Derrick Favors added 13 points. Ricky Rubiodidn’t post a triple-double though he put up 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists while Royce O’Neale had 10 points and nine boards off the bench.
Oklahoma City Thunder Looking to Stay in the Series
Oklahoma City is in a tough situation as three straight losses has put them on the brink of elimination. That’s hardly what the Thunder and their fans expected when the season, or for that matter, when this series started. The team’s superstar trio has failed to deliver on a consistent basis when it matters the most and the lack of a supporting cast has really hampered Oklahoma City. The Thunder can’t establish an interior game with Gobert and Favors patrolling the low block and that has turned them into a perimeter shooting team. Oklahoma City looks like a frustrated team ready to come apart at the seams.
The Thunder has struggled shooting the ball in the series as they are hitting only 43.6 percent from the floor as a team. Oklahoma City is knocking down 11 threes a game but they’re shooting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc, a number that is helped by their 14 of 29 showing in Game 1. In Game 4, the Thunder struggled to 39.3 percent shooting from the field and went just five of 26 from beyond the arc. Oklahoma City never responded after the Jazz had their big run at the end of the first half and the start of the third quarter. Paul George led the Thunder with 32 points in the loss but shot nine of 21 from the floor. Russell Westbrook chipped in 23 points and 14 rebounds though he battled foul trouble, Carmelo Anthony had 11 points and Alex Abrines chipped in 10 off the bench. The Thunder is going to need more from Steven Adams and company if they hope to extend the series.
- Jazz are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
- Jazz are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
- Jazz are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win
- Thunder are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points
- Thunder are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 vs. NBA Northwest
Oklahoma City has really sputtered in the series and things have gotten away from them in a hurry. Westbrook guaranteed that Rubio wouldn’t repeat his triple-double and on that part he was accurate: he also committed four fouls in the first half, rendering him ineffective the rest of the way. Utah has dominated the paint and the second chance points: they have 57 of them in their last three games. The Jazz has quality depth and solid options to make things happen: look for Utah to come up with a win here to close the series