Preview: Jazz @ Thunder
February 28, 2017
Time for a little Northwest Division basketball.
The Thunder will face the Utah Jazz tonight, and it’s a great opportunity for Oklahoma City to make up some ground. Currently trailing by 3 games in the Northwest Division, a win tonight would be a sweet one.
OKC also trails Utah in the Western Conference standings — with the Jazz sitting in the 4-seed and OKC in 7th. Oh what a difference three games makes, right?
The season series is split 1–1 thus far, with the Jazz handing OKC a 109–89 shellacking the first time the teams met up, and Russ hitting a game-winner in a 97–95 thriller the next time. Here is how they stack up statistically on the season:
What to Watch For
The Main Thing
Russell Westbrook & Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is the only All-Star on the Jazz roster, and Russell Westbrook’s numbers somehow make him look like an average NBA player (he’s not.) In fact, looking at the side-by-side comparison from the last 10 games, the only remarkable thing about Hayward is his perfectly coiffed hair. It’s not on Nick Collison’s level, but GH puts some time into his art.
In 19 regular season match-ups in their careers, Westbrook is 15–4 against Hayward. That’s a blood bath, folks. Their head-to-head stat lines aren’t much better:
Westbrook: 24.8 PPG, 6.4 APG, 6.2 RPG
Hayward: 13.4 PPG, 3 APG, 3.3 RPG
In the first two Thunder/Jazz match-ups of the season, Westbrook is averaging 32.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. On the other side, Hayward has put 17 points, 4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Again, not very close.
Beating the Jazz will require a sub-par effort from Hayward, which is perfect because OKC has a guy named Andre Roberson ready to put the clamps down. This should free up Westbrook to again dominate the head-to-head with the Jazz’s only All-Star, and hopefully, help the Thunder get out with a win.
Oh, and one more thing. Rudy Gobert — we’re banking on Russ not missing this again. You saw what he did to Boogie on Sunday, right?