Aleksej Pokuševski
(Coby Van Loan | OKC Thunder)

Preview: Thunder vs. Jazz

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

Game Day: OKC vs. UTA

After taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, the Thunder returns to action to face another division foe in the Utah Jazz. The matchup marks the second of three consecutive home games for the Thunder inside of Paycom Center. 

WHAT TO WATCH

  • Pouring in the Paint Points – Getting to the lane has always been a core tenet of the Thunder’s offensive identity and since the All-Star Break, that element of its game has been on full display. Over that time span, the Thunder has averaged 57.2 points in the paint while shooting at 56.5 percent in the lane which rank third and second in the league respectively. 
  • Cleaning the Glass – The rebounding game will play a big factor in this matchup. The Jazz average the fourth most rebounds per night and tout the league leader in rebounds per game in Rudy Gobert. The 7-foot-1 center averages 14.8 boards per night as well as a league leading 4.4 second chance points per game. 

OKC doesn’t trail far behind in the rebounding category as the team ranks sixth overall in total boards per game, but it will take a collective rebounding effort to limit Gobert and the Jazz on the glass. 

  • Defensive Execution – OKC’s defensive execution will be put to the test against the Jazz who hold the number one offensive rating in the NBA. Utah’s offense ranks in the top 10 in both field goal and 3-point percentage. 

Similar to its most recent opponent in the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah generates a heavy portion of its scoring from the 3-point line. The team ranks second in the league in 3-pointers attempted, made and percentage of total points from deep. Look for the Thunder to carry over the lessons from its matchup against the sharp-shooting Jazz. 

NOTABLE

Thunder forward Isaiah Roby has stepped up big time for the Thunder in the starting lineup over the last two contests. The fourth year forward has logged back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in his career while averaging 23.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and shooting 57.1 percent from the field over the span. 

QUOTABLE

“We’ve just got to be more aggressive on closeouts to the shooters and have more awareness of that. Not letting them get comfortable from the beginning.”

Aleksej Pokuševski on the takeaways from defending the 3-point line against the Jazz

SCOUTING REPORT

The Jazz (39-23) tout a well-balanced scoring attack that features five players averaging 13 or more points per game. Starting point guard Donovan Mitchell leads the team in scoring with 25.9 points each night on 45-percent shooting from the field. 14-year veteran Mike Conley rounds out the backcourt and leads the team in assists with 5.3 assists per night. Behind Mitchell, Utah’s second leading scorer is Bojan Bogdanović who pours in 17.7 points per night. Jordan Clarkson headlines the Jazz’s second unit as the guard has poured in 888 points off the bench this season marking the most of any second unit player in the league.