Published: Sat, April 21, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Thunder target 'Slow-Mo Joe' to beat Jazz

Thunder target 'Slow-Mo Joe' to beat Jazz

Mitchell was very sharp against the Thunder in the regular season, posting an average of 20.7 points on 53% shooting in three games.

Read the AP recap here.

This Sunday will kickoff a Western Conference showdown between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz. As a team, the Jazz shot 47 percent from the field and 11 of 28 from the three-point line but they just couldn't find a way to contain the Thunder's Paul George who drained eight 3-pointers on his way to 36 points. After an assist in a game earlier this week, Davis said the Thunder's star point guard was "out of his cotton-picking mind". "Rely on what got us through Game 1, and trust in our system". Now, the Thunder can stagger the minutes for George and Anthony, ensuring that there is at least one big-time scorer on the court at all times. Steven Adams has to lay a body on Rudy Gobert as well.

The Thunder fought back to level the scores at 25 after the opening quarter, and from there, George took over. It's not a series until a team wins a game on the road, and the Jazz will have a chance to do that in Game 2.

As Andre Roberson is injured and inactive during these games, George is OKC's best available defender.

On top of all the game-winners, Westbrook averaged 60.0 points per 36 minutes last season with five-or-fewer minutes to go in games that were within five points, the most ever since the National Basketball Association began tracking that stat in 1996.

Many of George's makes were contested.

Paul George has had an up-and-down season, but he also had a fantastic April with 27.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. For the Jazz, the argument against them is that they're not going to be able to handle the pressure that comes with the playoff atmosphere, especially against a team led by last year's league MVP in Russell Westbrook.

Thabo Sefolosha, who injured his right knee MCL in mid-January, is the only significant Jazz player missing in the postseason. "We need to play better defensively".

The Thunder are the higher seed - fourth in the West, against the Jazz's fifth - but, as befits a matchup between two teams that finished with identical regular season records, most pundits have the series going the distance, with OKC the slightest of favourites.

In a near must-win game against the Houston Rockets, the Thunder fell behind by one with about seven minutes left.

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