The Oklahoma City Thunder will play the second of back to back road games on Monday night when they take on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Thunder come into this one with a losing record and sit outside of playoff contention in the West. The Jazz hold the sixth spot but have taken some losses to other contenders in recent games. Despite overall struggles, both teams recently bounced back with wins. The Thunder took down the Timberwolves in overtime and have now won three of their last four games. The Jazz managed to take down the Grizzlies in their last performance, snapping a three-game losing streak and getting back on track.
Thunder look to keep some momentumThe Thunder are off to anything but an ideal start, but with three wins in four outings, they look to gain some much-needed momentum. What Oklahoma City lacks in star power these days, they make up for in-depth. Four different players average over 15 points per game for the Thunder, but unfortunately, none put up more than 20 per game. Danilo Gallinari is the closest in that respect, averaging 18.6 points to go along with 5.7 rebounds. Chris Paul has also been a massive part of this struggling offense with his 15.8 points and 6.0 assists per contest. To get through the strong defense of the Jazz, a deep offense is needed, but so is a player who can take over in crunch time situations.
94 feet in 61 seconds.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 7, 2019
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A major issue for Oklahoma City so far this season has been their rebounding. The 42.2 boards per game that they pull in are better than only the Hawks, Wizards, and Hornets; three teams that are not known for their winning. Thunder opponents average 45.2 rebounds per game, including 10.3 offensive boards. A team like Oklahoma City that struggles offensively cannot give up possessions and expect to win, especially in a road game against a team like the Jazz. Steven Adams has been great down low, pulling in 9.1 rebounds per game for his team but no other player is over six. With only one player consistently hauling in boards, the Thunder are likely to get the smaller share of the possessions.
Jazz continue to play well at homeDespite some losses recently, the Utah Jazz have looked great at home with a 9-2 record in Salt Lake City. Their only losses on their home floor have come to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, two teams holding playoff spots in the West early on. Utah counts on a slower pace and an airtight defense to rack up their wins. The 106.1 points per game that Utah allows are good for ninth-best in the NBA. The Thunder only has the 20th best scoring offense in the NBA so this Utah defense could be a problem for them, especially in Utah. On top of that, the perimeter offense for Oklahoma City will be virtually non-existent. The 11.0 threes that Utah allows per game is seventh least in the league while the 10.4 that the Thunder make per game are just 25th in the NBA.
The Jazz have not been an offensive powerhouse by any means this year, but a lot of their scoring has come thanks to Donovan Mitchell. He is averaging 24.6 points per game so far this season and adding 3.6 assists. Joe Ingles has also come into his own and begun filling up the stat sheet lately. His 12 point, 10 assist performance against the Grizzlies came just two games after an eight assist night. If the Jazz can begin expanding their offense outside of relying on Mitchell and Bogdanovic, they will be far better off in terms of pairing scoring with their defensive ability.