Playoffs 2018 West First Round: Thunder (4) vs. Jazz (5)
Numbers preview: Oklahoma City Thunder (4) vs. Utah Jazz (5)
After adding a pair of All-Stars last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t exactly live up to expectations in the regular season, winning only one more game than they did last season and finishing in a three-way tie for the fourth best record in the Western Conference.
But the Thunder, with all the talent that they have, can do a lot of damage in the playoffs. And tiebreakers gave them the 4 seed and home-court advantage in their first round series with the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz have exceeded expectations, recovering from the loss of Gordon Hayward and a slow start to win 29 of their final 35 games. They have an elite defense and a dynamic rookie who makes things happen on offense. And over that 29-6 stretch, they went 15-2 on the road.
This may be the best matchup in the first round, sure to feature a few meetings at the rim between Russell Westbrook and Rudy Gobert.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 4-5 series in the West, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34)
Pace: 99.2 (16)
OffRtg: 107.6 (10)
DefRtg: 104.7 (10)
NetRtg: +2.9 (8)
Thunder team notes:
- One of four teams that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
- Were the league’s fourth most improved offensive team, scoring 2.6 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season.
- Ranked 28th in ball movement (301 passes per 24 minutes of possession), 28th in player movement (10.2 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession), and 29th in assist percentage (assisting on 54 percent of their field goals).
- Led the league on both points off turnovers (18.7 per game) and second chance points (14.9 per game). Those accounted for 31 percent of their scoring.
- Ranked fifth defensively (103.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) at the time of Andre Roberson’s knee injury. They ranked 15th defensively from that point on (107.0). For the season, they allowed 96.4 points per 100 possessions with Roberson on the floor and 107.6 with him off the floor. That (11.2 points per 100 possessions) was the biggest on-off DefRtg differential, by a wide margin, among 266 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single season.
- 36 percent of their opponents’ shots, the third highest rate in the league, came from 3-point range. 25 percent of their opponents’ 3-point attempts, the third highest rate in the league, came from the corners. Only the Cavs (259) and Knicks (258) allowed more corner threes than the Thunder (253).
- Outscored their opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions in the first, second and fourth quarters, but were outscored by 4.5 in the third. Ranked 27th in third-quarter effective field goal percentage, with both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George shooting less than 40 percent in the third.
Thunder individual notes:
- Steven Adams took 98 percent of his shots in the paint. That was the second highest rate among 180 players who attempted at least 500 shots.
- Adams ranked third in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 16 percent of available offensive boards while he was on the floor. He was the first player in the last 20 years to average at least 7.5 rebounds per game, with more offensive rebounds (384) than defensive rebounds (301).
- Alex Abrines‘ ratio of 3-point attempts to mid-range attempts was 15/1, the fifth highest ratio among 207 players who attempted at least 200 shots from outside the paint.
- Carmelo Anthony took 39 percent of his shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line). That was the fourth highest rate among 180 players with at least 500 total field goal attempts.
- Paul George ranked second in the league in steals (2.0 per game) and tied for the league in deflections (3.9 per game).
- George shot 33 percent from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), the fourth worst mark among 57 players with 200 mid-range attempts.
- Jerami Grant had an effective field goal percentage of 64 percent after the All-Star break, up from 54 percent before the break. That was the second biggest jump among 203 players who attempted at least 250 pre-break shots and 100 post-break shots.
- Grant shot 26 percent on corner 3-pointers, the third worst mark among 125 players who attempted at least 50.
- Russell Westbrook led the league in time of possession (9.2 minutes per game), though he saw the second biggest drop in usage rate (from a record 41 percent to 33 percent) among players who played at least 1,000 minutes each of the last two seasons. He also led the league in assists (10.3 per game) and assist percentage, assisting on 46 percent of his teammates’ field goals while he was on the floor. He also led the league in drives (19.2 per game), and fast break points (5.5 per game).
- Westbrook also led the league with 10 buckets (on 27 attempts) to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.
- Westbrook had 229 assists to Adams. That was the most assists from one teammate to another this season.
Utah Jazz (48-34)
Pace: 97.8 (25)
OffRtg: 106.2 (15)
DefRtg: 101.6 (2)
NetRtg: +4.6 (5)
Jazz team notes:
- Led the league with 52.9 drives per game.
- Allowed 97.5 points per 100 possessions from the time Rudy Gobert returned from injury on Jan. 19. That was 3.6 fewer points per 100 possessions than any other team allowed over that stretch.
- Allowed their opponents to take only 61 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range. That was the second lowest opponent rate in the league.
- Took 29 percent of their 3-pointers, the highest rate in the league, from the corners.
- Played only 29 games that were within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. That was tied with Golden State for the fewest clutch games in the league.
Jazz individual notes:
- Jae Crowder saw a drop in effective field goal percentage from 57 percent last season to 49 percent this season. That was the biggest drop among 126 players who attempted at least 500 shots both seasons. His effective field goal percentage was higher in 53 games with Cleveland (50 percent) than it was in 27 games with Utah (47 percent).
- Rudy Gobert had an effective field goal percentage of 69 percent at home and 54 percent on the road. That was the biggest home-road effective field goal percentage differential among 213 players with at least 200 field goal attempts both at home on the road. Alec Burks (54 percent, 40 percent) had the second biggest differential.
- Gobert took 84 percent (372/444) of his shots in the restricted area, the third highest rate among 222 players who attempted at least 400 shots.
- Derrick Favors saw an increase in effective field goal percentage from 49 percent last season to 57 percent this season. That was the third biggest jump among 160 players who attempted at least 400 shots both seasons.
- But Favors had an effective field goal percentage of just 34.6 percent from outside the paint, the worst mark among 207 players who attempted at least 200 total shots from the outside.
- Joe Ingles ranked fourth in 3-point percentage at 44.0 percent. He ranked third with 74 corner 3-pointers and his effective field goal percentage of 63.4 percent on shots from outside the paint ranked second (behind Anthony Tolliver) among 207 players who attempted at least 200.
- Jonas Jerebko shot 53 percent on corner 3-pointers, the fourth best mark among players who attempted at least 50.
- Donovan Mitchell ranked 21st in overall usage rate (using 29 percent of Utah’s possessions while he was on the floor), but fourth in clutch usage rate (using 44 percent of Utah’s possessions while he was on the floor with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime).
- Mitchell led all rookies in scoring at 20.5 points per game and set a rookie record with 187 3-pointers.
- The Jazz allowed 97.3 and 97.7 points per 100 possessions with Royce O’Neale and Gobert on the floor, respectively. Those were the second and third lowest on-court DefRtg marks among players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games.
Regular season matchup
Season series: Thunder won 3-1 (2-0 in Oklahoma City)
Oct. 21 @ Utah – Jazz 96, Thunder 87
Dec. 5 @ Oklahoma City – Thunder 100, Jazz 94
Dec. 20 @ Oklahoma City – Thunder 107, Jazz 79
Dec. 23 @ Utah – Thunder 103, Jazz 89
Pace: 93.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Oklahoma City OffRtg: 105.7 (8th vs. Utah)
Utah OffRtg: 95.7 (28th vs. Oklahoma City)
- All four meetings took place before Christmas, before the Jazz acquired Jae Crowder, before the Thunder lost Andre Roberson for the season, and before they added Corey Brewer. Rudy Gobert played in only the first two games, and Donovan Mitchell missed the third meeting.
- Only the Dec. 5 meeting was within five points in the last five minutes. The Thunder shot 6-for-8 in the clutch.
- The 95.7 points scored per 100 possessions the Jazz scored were fewest by any West playoff team in a season series against another West playoff team. Only the Chicago Bulls (78 points per 100 possessions) scored less efficiently against the Thunder than the Jazz did.
- Westbrook averaged a triple-double (22.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.0 assists) in the four games.
- The Thunder grabbed 26.5 percent of available offensive rebounds, the highest rate of any team against the Jazz. No player grabbed more offensive rebounds against the Jazz than Steven Adams (18). Gobert played in only two of the four meetings, but the Thunder’s offensive rebounding percentage was higher with Gobert on the floor (31 percent) than it was otherwise against the Jazz (24 percent). The Thunder had 10 second chance points in their one loss, and totaled 46 in their three wins.
- The Thunder were one of five teams against which Mitchell shot better than 50 percent.
- Ricky Rubio had as many turnovers (16) as assists in the four games.
- Rubio was the primary defender on Westbrook (134 of 270 possessions). Westbrook shot less than he did on average on those possessions, but the Thunder scored a little more efficiently than their average.
- Roberson was the primary defender on Mitchell.
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