Utah Jazz (2-3) - Oklahoma City Thunder (4-1) Preview

Utah Jazz (2-3) - Oklahoma City Thunder (4-1) Preview

Northwest division rivals battle it out in Salt Lake City as the Thunder close out their preseason schedule and shift their focus towards the regular season.

Alex Roig
  • When: Tuesday, 20 October 2015 at 9:00 PM EST
  • Where: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

As the Oklahoma City Thunder close out their preseason schedule, they can take solace in the fact that, when healthy, the team still looks like one of the top teams in the league. The starters have dominated in the four games they have played as a complete unit. The offense continues to show new wrinkles of movement and misdirection, while the defense has been more controlled, while still remaining aggressive. The bench has been a positive work in progress as head coach Billy Donovan figures out the rotation. Dion Waiters has played a controlled, complete game, and Enes Kanter has gotten double-doubles in two of the four preseason games he has played.

The Thunder and Utah Jazz split their season series last season, with the home team winning every matchup. Kanter and Steve Novak were a part of the Jazz last season, before a trade deadline deal sent them to Oklahoma City.

The Opponent

The Utah Jazz come into this game with a 2-3 preseason record. They finished last season 38-44, but their improvement in the second half of the season lends credence to the hope that the Jazz will be competing for the eighth seed in the Western Conference this season. They were one of the top defensive teams after the trade deadline and feature a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Rudy Gobert. The loss of Dante Exum to a torn ACL may hurt the Jazz's defensive output this season, though. Small forward Gordon Hayward was the Jazz's best player last season, averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Up front, the combo of Gobert and power forward Derrick Favors proved to be a formidable duo in the paint. The point guard position is the big question mark on this team. Exum's injury and Trey Burke's lack of development as a starting-caliber point guard may be the Jazz's Achilles heel in a conference full of great point guards.

Probable Starting Lineups

Utah Jazz

  • PG - Trey Burke
  • SG - Alec Burks
  • SF - Gordon Hayward
  • PF - Derrick Favors
  • C - Rudy Gobert

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Andre Roberson
  • SF - Kevin Durant
  • PF - Serge Ibaka
  • C - Steven Adams

3 Things to Watch For

  1. No Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, or Mitch McGary tonight - Kanter and Augustin will rest, while McGary is still suffering from concussion-like symptoms from the concussion he suffered in the Memphis game.
  2. Rotation - The Thunder should solidify their rotation in their final preseason game. The starters will likely play around 30-32 minutes, while players like Waiters, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Singer, and Nick Collison will likely see what will probably be their usual allotment of minutes.
  3. Health - This preseason has been a stark contrast to last year's preseason. Injuries were the staple last season, but this year has been different up to this point. No major injuries. Hopefully it stays that way during this game also.