OKC vs. UTA Game Preview – Protecting the Paint

The lane is the heart of every offense- something the Thunder understands on both ends of the floor.

The Thunder’s Sunday night opponent, the Utah Jazz, score 45.3 percent of its points in the paint, seventh most in the NBA. As a result, tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder will have to be ready to both defend in the post but also get back to prevent fast breaks.

By getting back on defense and showing a wall of defenders, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team can prevent easy drives to the rim or drive-and-dish opportunities for Jazz guards to send the ball out to shooters.

“We want to continue to focus on our defensive habits,” Brooks said. “We can improve on our transition defense. We talked about that today with our group. That’s an area that we have to get better.”

“An area that will help that is if we can take care of the ball,” Brooks explained. “That will help with our transition defense. And then matching up - we have to do a better job of making sure the ball is covered and our guys are running back, matching up, communicating, point and making sure that everyone is guarding.”

With big men like Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors on the other side of the floor, Thunder defenders Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Steven Adams will have to stay tough and continue to perform well in two areas where it has been successful thus far.

The Thunder is one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA so far this season, and continuing that trend by keeping Kanter and Favors away from the offensive glass would be a great way to prevent the Jazz from getting second chance opportunities. In addition, winning the battle of points in the paint has been a recipe for success for the Thunder this year, as the team is 5-2 when it scores more paint points than its opponent.

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Jazz this season, and overall is 13-7 against Utah.

- The Thunder is 6-1 this season when it grabs more rebounds than its opponent, and just 2-2 when it grabs fewer rebounds than its opponent.

- The Thunder is 4-0 this season when it scores more fast break points than its opponent and just 4-3 when it scores fewer fast break points than its opponent.

Broadcast Info:

6:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network