UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Ready For Challenge In Crucial Late-Season Game Against OKC

Mar 11, 2019, 4:54 PM
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) maneuvers between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) maneuvers between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) and forward Paul George (13) in the final seconds of the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While it’s just one of 17 games remaining in the regular season for the Utah Jazz, Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder may be one of the most important coming down the homestretch.

Going into the game, the Jazz find themselves in a logjam with a three way tie for sixth along with the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers. Oklahoma City sits just a couple games ahead of the Jazz, in a tie with Portland for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Utah has benefit of having the easiest schedule remaining, according to Tankathon.com, while the Thunder have the fourth-hardest.

The remaining slate paints a favorable picture for the Jazz to rise in the standings and pass Oklahoma City for home-court advantage in the playoffs, but they’ll have to capitalize on the head-to-head matchups.

So far this season, Oklahoma City has had the upper hand when the two teams have met winning all three of the previous meetings.

However, the Thunder haven’t been dominant and the Jazz could have easily won two of those games.

After falling 122-113 on the road in the first meeting on Dec. 10, the Jazz nearly took the rematch but were just edged 107-106 on Dec. 22.

In their first game out of the All-Star break, the Jazz lost 148-147 in a thrilling double-overtime contest where Paul George flexed his MVP-candidate muscles with several game-breaking shots.

Against the Jazz this season, George is averaging 39.7 points per game on 60.6 percent shooting.

Former league MVP Russell Westbrook has been a torn in the Jazz’s side at times this season as well. He scored 43 points in the Thunder’s double-overtime win on Feb. 22, but was held to just 8 and 12 points in the other two games.

Crowder Ready For Challenge

“These guys obviously play very aggressive from top to bottom,” said Jazz forward Jae Crowder of the Thunder after morning shootaround. “They have Paul George who is playing at a high clip, Westbrook controls the game at a high pace, so they have a lot of different weapons and they use them very well.”

While he continued to say that the Thunder seem to get going early, Crowder said he felt like the Jazz have done a good job of “weathering the storm” against them.

Exum To Return From Injury

After missing 25 games with a sprained ankle, Jazz guard Dante Exum is expected to play in Monday’s game.

According to Crowder, it will be a big boost to have the Australian point guard back in the lineup.

“He can give us a spark,” said Crowder. “Come in off the bench, play with a lot of energy, obviously he’s a great playmaker for us. He can definitely help us win games at a high level.”

Broadcast Info

The game between the Jazz and Thunder will tip off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on AT&T Sports Net.

 

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Jazz Ready For Challenge In Crucial Late-Season Game Against OKC