The Oklahoma City Thunder, who now have a record of 38-42, are in charge of choosing their own fate. They will be eligible for the play-in round if they win their final game, regardless of whether or not it is against the Utah Jazz or the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder have a good chance of getting there regardless if Dallas keeps losing, but a victory over the Jazz will allow them to push that much closer to the 10th spot in the Western Conference.
OKC has been having trouble winning as of late, as seen by the fact that they have lost six of their previous eight games. Some of those defeats came at the hands of teams that were considered to be legitimate contenders in the Western Conference, but some of them came at the hands of bad clubs like the Charlotte Hornets and the Indiana Pacers.
This season, OKC has a record of 2-1 against Utah. In their most recent victories, they cruised to easy victories with comfortable margins of victory thanks to their superior scoring efficiency compared to that of the Jazz.
Because of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, their attack has been operating at a high level of consistency. After that first game against the Jazz, he was sidelined for the next two weeks, and the team has a lot of trouble finishing off games when he isn’t there. Thankfully, he has had plenty time to recover and is prepared to compete in the crucial match.
In addition to Shai, youngster Jalen Williams has continued to surprise the young team with his play. In their most recent matchup against the Jazz, he scored a career-high 32 points, and since then, he has been averaging an impressive 18.9 points per game for his team.
The Utah Jazz now have a record of 36-43 and have failed to win any of their last eight contests. Walker Kessler, the team’s rookie, has been sidelined with an injury, while Lauri Markkanen, a candidate for Most Improved Player, has only appeared in three of the team’s last eight games.
The fact that players who are often on the team’s second unit, such as Udoka Azubuike, Kelly Olynyk, Damian Jones, and Kris Dunn, are playing large minutes has a negative impact on the team’s ability to shoot the ball.
It would be unfair to minimize the efforts of these young men, though, because the Jazz continue to compete fiercely despite the absence of a player with All-Star potential in their starting lineup. They suffered a defeat at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets by one point, followed by a defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers by two points.
Over the past month, Talen Horton-Tucker has been bearing the weight for the club by averaging 20.9 points and 6.6 assists per game. He has been the primary contributor to the team’s success. However, if Markkanen were to regain his health, they unquestionably would have a better opportunity.
Due to the fact that both clubs are fighting for a playoff berth, it is tough to predict which one will come out on top in this match. Both teams are putting in a lot of effort to get the win, but it appears that OKC has the upper hand due to Shai’s guaranteed playing time.
Even though Horton-Tucker has been quite dependable as of late, their odds are not very good without Markkanen.