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Thunder vs Jazz Game 4: Will Russell Westbrook Back his Promise?

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Apr 22, 2018 · 8:50 PM PDT

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook's knee surgery and subsequent missed games could be the difference in deciding Northwest Division champion. Photo by Erik Drost (Flickr).
  • Thunder face daunting task of evening series in front of raucous Jazz crowd
  • OKC scoring has dried up against stingy Utah D
  • Mitchell, Rubio dominating series for Jazz

After being outclassed in Game 3, the Oklahoma City Thunder face the daunting task of coming up with a critical win in Game 4 against the Utah Jazz in their best-of-7 series.

If someone told you Game 3 would be dominated by a point guard that dazzled and dominated en route to a triple-double to lead his team to victory, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary.

Except the performance didn’t come from reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. Instead, it was his counterpart Ricky Rubio, who was spectacular.

He had plenty of help, as the Jazz starting five poured in 98 of Utah’s 115 points. Rookie Donovan Mitchell again played like a seasoned vet, and Rudy Gobert was a beast on both ends, but Joe Ingles was a flamethrower on Saturday night.

This is the second game in a row where the Thunder’s offense cratered in the fourth quarter, and that falls on the shoulders of Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. In the last two fourth quarters, the Thunder’s big three has shot a combined 3-for-21 from the field for just 7 points.

 Oklahoma City Thunder vs Utah Jazz Regular Season Team Stats

OFFENSE

Thunder
VS
Jazz
107.6 Offensive Rating  106.2
107. Points 104.1
21.3 Assists 22.4
45.3 Field-Goal Percentage 46.2
35.4 Three-Point Percentage 36.6
+3.4  Plus/Minus +4.3

DEFENSE

Thunder
VS
Jazz
104.7  Defensive Rating 101.6
104.4  Points 99.8
+2.9  Rebounding Differential +1.7
-1.7  Turnover Differential -0.4
45.8  Field-Goal Percentage 44.9
36.7  Three-Point Percentage 36.5
43.9  Points In The Paint 44.4

Head-to-Head Results

Date Location Score Winner
April 21 – Playoff UTAH 96-87 UTAH
April 18 – Playoff OKC 102-95 UTAH
April 15 – Playoff  OKC 116-108 OKC
Dec. 23 – Regular Season UTAH 103-89 OKC
Dec. 20 – Regular Season OKC 107-97 OKC
Dec. 6 – Regular Season OKC 100-94 OKC
Oct. 22 – Regular Season UTAH 96-87 UTAH

Notable Injuries and Absences

Jazz Thunder
No Injured Players No Injured Players

 Straight Up Advice: Jazz (106-98)

It sounds odd to say, but Westbrook needs to get into this series with the type of force he usually exhibits in every game. Last year, he tied for the most points scored in the playoffs in the first round. This year, he ranks just 16th at a little over 20 points per game. He’s shooting just 36% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc. He also took zero shots in the fourth quarter in Game 3.

He did vow to not let ‘Playoff Rubio’ become a thing.

But even if he contains his counterpart, he’s missing the point. This series is a battle of the star power of the Thunder and the collective excellence of the Jazz as a whole. Utah’s utilitarian offense allows the best shot to dictate who scores, and not the other way around.

The difference so far has been Utah’s stifling defense, making it hard to get easy buckets. Toss in the Jazz’s absurd rebounding edge of 48-33 in Game 3, and the result is a lot of one-and-dones on offense.

When you hold OKC’s big three to an 18-for-43 shooting night (41%), there’s little behind them to make up for those precious points.

In Game 4, Utah again proves why they were top-10 in both points scored and in scoring defense in the regular season. This is not an upset or a fluke – they are for real.

It would take a perfect offensive game – which includes a Russ explosion – for OKC to take Game 4, and it seems unlikely at this point. Jazz take the stranglehold in this series.

 Team Trends – Regular Season

Thunder Jazz
Oklahoma City is 21-20 SUon the road Utah is 29-13 SU at home
Oklahoma City  is 5-5 SU in its last ten games Utah is 8-2 SU in its last ten games
Oklahoma City is 7-7-0 SU as underdog Utah is 34-13 SU as favorite
Oklahoma City is 13-21-1 ATS after a loss Utah is 28-13-0 ATS after a win
Oklahoma City is 35-49-1 ATS this season (41.7%) Utah is 44-41-0 ATS this season (51.8%)
Oklahoma City is 18-23-0 ATS on the road Utah is 22-20-0 ATS at home

Additional SU Picks (April 23rd)

Only one other series shares the spotlight Monday, and it’s also a big one in Minneapolis.

 Match-Up SU Pick
Rockets vs Timberwolves Timberwolves

Let us know who you’ve got in both games in the comment section below!

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