2018 NBA Playoffs: Jazz vs. Thunder series preview, schedule, bracket, odds, analysis, TV channel, live stream info
The Jazz vs. the Thunder. No first-round NBA Playoffs series may seem closer on paper, and our experts were split for a reason.
The Jazz and the Thunder are an interesting first-round matchup, in the sense that most series have a clear underdog. However, this series is anything but clear. Although the Thunder may have more “stars” on their roster, the Jazz are fielding a scorching-hot team with rookie Donovan Mitchell leading the way, winning 17 of their last 21 games to take the No. 5 seed.
With that being said, the Thunder took what everyone thought was a piecemeal roster and made it into the No. 4 seed. Sure the Westbrook-Anthony-George system took some lumps, but the Thunder persevered this season to make themselves look like a threatening — if flawed — presence. Russell Westbrook is still clearly the leader, but the Thunder still got over 20 points per game for Paul George and 15 for Carmelo Anthony.
Before Game 1, here is everything you need to know about what may be the most intense first-round series:
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34) vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz (48-34)
How to watch Thunder vs. Jazz Game 1
Date: Sunday, April 15
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City
Live stream: TNTDrama.com/WatchTNT or the WatchTNT app
Playoff series schedule
Game 1 in Oklahoma City: Sunday, April 15, 6:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, April 18, 8 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Game 3 in Utah: Saturday, April 21, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 4 in Utah: Monday, April 23, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 5 in Oklahoma City: TBA (if necessary)
Game 6 in Utah: TBA (if necessary)
Game 7 in Oklahoma City: TBA (if necessar)
Season series: Thunder 3-1
Last season’s playoff results: Thunder eliminated by Houston Rockets 4-1 in first round; Jazz eliminated by Golden State Warriors 4-0 in second round
Injury report: Alex Abrines is day-to-day with a concussion for the Thunder. Thunder guard Andre Roberson and Jazz guard Thabo Sefolosha are both out for the season.
Thunder projected starting lineup: G Russell Westbrook; G Corey Brewer; F Carmelo Anthony; F Paul George; C Steven Adams
Jazz projected starting lineup: G Ricky Rubio; G Donovan Mitchell; F Joe Ingles; F Derrick Favors; C Rudy Gobert
Thunder win if …
The Thunder need two things: They need Russell Westbrook to dominate the game, and they need the Paul George that averaged north of 20 points in his last four games. This alone shows what makes the Thunder’s experiment this year so difficult, but it worked, at least as far as getting them home court. With that being said, Adams will need to body-up on Gobert and force him out of the paint. Westbrook being the team’s leading rebounder should give some Thunder fans pause.
Jazz win if …
Rudy Gobert makes the paint his on both ends of the floor, plain and simple. If he can punish Russell Westbrook for challenging him inside while also maintaining his 13.5 points per game to complement Donovan Mitchell, who we know will put up points, the Jazz will be a tough out. A little of that late-season momentum carrying over wouldn’t hurt either. Jae Crowder, who has vastly improved since his trade to Utah, could also be an impactful sixth man.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Thunder have a 5.3 percent chance to win the conference and a 2.2 percent chance to win it all. On the flip side, the Jazz have a 6.8 percent chance of winning the conference and 3 percent chance to win the Finals. SportsLine will have game-by-game gambling advice for every playoff series here.