- When: Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 8:00 pm CST
- Where: Vivent Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
- TV: FSOK
- Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
- Line: OKC -4.5 | O/U – 200
There was a point in the Thunder vs. Knicks game with around four minutes left in the 2nd quarter where the score was tied at 40. You could tell there was a nervousness in the arena, wondering if this Big 3 experiment was going to work. Then, the Thunder finally woke up and went on a 22-6 run that essentially put the game away.
It was eye-opening because there are going to be a lot of nights like this for the Thunder. The Knicks are not a top-tier team at all and will likely have one of the worst defenses in the league this season. But seeing the team turn it on and nitrous boost their way past the Knicks in an 8 minutes span was positive in many ways.
What was worrisome was the same thing that plagued the Thunder all of last season: how they fared when Westbrook was on the bench. From the beginning of the game to the end the third quarter when the game was basically decided, the Thunder were a +28 when Westbrook was in the game. When he was on the bench during that span, a -10. If there is one stat that needs to change, it is that one.
The Jazz come into this game with a 1-1 record. They won their first one against the Nuggets. In their second game, one of their main players, Rodney Hood, suffered an injury and had to be taken out. With Hood out, the Jazz struggled from the outside and lost to the Timberwolves.
With Hood out, the Jazz will be dependent on their big man duo of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Joe Ingles will be their only reliable shooter. The Jazz will have to depend on Alec Burks who has been limited to about 12 minutes per game this season.
- Oklahoma City – None
- Utah – Rodney Hood (calf), Dante Exum (shoulder)
Three Big Things
1. Offensive Execution
The Jazz will try to make their bread and butter on the defensive end. Gobert and Favors will seal off the paint, while Rubio will be patrolling the perimeter. With the Big 3 being more perimeter oriented, this should play into the Thunder’s wheelhouse if they are able to execute their offense and hit their outside shots.
2. Gobert vs. Adams
This should be a fun match-up. Both are most comfortable on the interior and there should be a plethora of alley-oop attempts between both teams.
3. Raymond Felton
Felton looked a little hesitant running the offense in the first game. He has the ability to take it inside and is crafty enough to generate offense when he gets in the paint. I don’t know if he is still getting comfortable with the team around him or if the wrist is still bothering him a bit. But the Thunder need him to be a little more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.