by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Bowmer of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (36-43) will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (38-42) as Utah’s playoff hopes will thrive or die tonight.
What to Look For
This game is important for both teams. Oklahoma City with a win will pave an easier path towards the play-in tournament while Utah is playing for their lives needing to win their final three games to earn the tenth spot in the play-in. Utah is getting hit with the injury bug down the stretch with a 1-6 record over their last seven games. Oklahoma City is coming into this game losing four of their last five games each loss with a larger deficit than the previous games.
Though these teams are both under .500 for the season, these teams have been killers on the offensive end as they’re both in the top 10 in the league in scoring. Oklahoma City and Utah have played three times this season and the team to reach 120 points has been victorious. Oklahoma City has the 2-1 advantage this season which might be a secondary motivator for Utah to come out with the win.
With the season coming to a close, Utah will have the decision to make on 10-day contract standout Luka Samanic, who is on the ninth day of his contract. During his time with Utah, Samanic has averaged 7.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.8 APG, with his last outing finishing with 12/4/2. Samanic was able to add a poster to his collection getting a backdoor slam dunk on LeBron James.
Key of the Game
Veteran leadership will prevail on the court. With four of five Utah starters being out tonight, Kelly Olynyk will become a focal point of Utah’s game plan. After an impressive effort from Olynyk in their 135-133 overtime loss on Tuesday, Utah may need Olynyk to be not only their top scorer but maybe even their number-one facilitator. With Olynyk being a few stats shy of a triple-double this season, if it were to happen, tonight would be the night to see it happen.
Oklahoma City- Luguentz Dort: Questionable (shoulder), Chet Holmgren: Out (foot), Aleksej Pokusevski: Out (knee), Kenrich Williams: Out (wrist)
Utah- Jordan Clarkson: Out (hand), Rudy Gay: Out (back), Talen Horton-Tucker: Probable (ankle), Walker Kessler: Out (concussion), Lauri Markkanen: Out (hand), Collin Sexton: Out (hamstring)
Where to Watch
Tip-off between Oklahoma City and Utah will be at 7:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.