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Game Preview: Jazz And Thunder Meet In Game That Never Was

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz attempts a dunk over Mike Muscala #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during an opening night game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 23, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah.(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz will finally get their opportunity to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in a potential first-round playoff preview. The Jazz and Thunder were set to meet on March 11 before Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, suspending the game and sending professional sports in the United States into a tailspin.

The Jazz and Thunder were set to tip-off their March matchup before the NBA asked in arena officials to delay the opening jump ball. Moments later, the game was suspended, and fans were sent home.

 

The Jazz vs. Thunder Matchup

The Thunder have been one of the league’s surprise teams this season despite trading both Russell Westbrook and Paul George last summer. Oklahoma City was expected to be entering a long term rebuild, with guard Chris Paul and forward Danilo Gallinari be dangled as trade pieces throughout the season.

However, the Thunder’s veteran pieces have blended seamlessly with second year-guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and have become a dark horse to play spoiler in the first round the playoffs. The Jazz and Thunder are currently projected to meet in the first round of the postseason.

The Thunder have one of the league’s most balanced scoring attacks, with Gilgeous-Alexander leading the team at 19.3 points per game. Gallinari averages 19.2 points per game, while sixth-man Dennis Schroder adds 19 points of his own.

Currently, the Jazz and Thunder are separated by just one and a half games after the Jazz won their season reopener against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. The Jazz and Thunder split two meetings in Utah this season before the league’s suspension.

The Thunder meanwhile have seen a dramatic improvement in play since the teams last met. Oklahoma City is 29-12 since December 9, winning games at a .707 pace. Oklahoma City has the third-best record in the NBA since Thanksgiving.

The Thunder will enter the game well-rested having last played Tuesday when they beat the Portland Trailblazers 131-120 in their final scrimmage game. The Jazz will look to start the game quickly having shaken off any rust from the long break in Thursday’s win over New Orleans.

The Jazz and Thunder tip-off at 1:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and locally on AT&T SportsNet.