HOW THUN­DER DE­FENDS THE JAZZ

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NBA PALYOFFS - ERIK HORNE, STAFF WRITER

Five fast facts on Ok­la­homa City and Utah:

1 The Thun­der lim­ited the Jazz to 89.5 points per game in four meet­ings in the reg­u­lar sea­son, its sec­ond-low­est op­po­nent scor­ing av­er­age be­hind Chicago’s 74. The Jazz aren’t ex­actly set­ting the league on fire of­fen­sively, rank­ing 15th in points scored per 100 pos­ses­sions (106.2).

2 The switches may be less preva­lent against Utah. Un­less he’s rolling, the ur­gency to get to cen­ter Rudy Gobert above the free throw line won’t be as dire, as Gobert does all of his of­fen­sive dam­age around the rim. The Thun­der won’t be afraid of Gobert pop­ping out for spot-ups or 3-point­ers: 388 of his 444 field-goal at­tempts came within five feet of the rim this sea­son.

3 Utah guard Dono­van Mitchell led the Jazz in scor­ing at 20.5 points per game on 17.2 at­tempts. The next clos­est Jazz player in points is Gobert (13.5). More im­por­tantly, the next clos­est Jazz play­ers in at­tempts are Jae Crow­der (10.9 per game) and Ricky Ru­bio (10.7), both sub-42 per­cent shoot­ers. Joe In­gles has been one of the NBA’s best 3-point shoot­ers this sea­son (44 per­cent), but is lim­ited in cre­at­ing his own shot.

4 Much of the heavy lift­ing falls on keep­ing Mitchell from get­ting to the rim, where he’s fin­ish­ing at 63.9 per­cent, ex­cel­lent for his size. An is­sue for OKC: In pre­vi­ous matchups against Utah, the Thun­der had An­dre Rober­son de­fend Mitchell on 78 of his 182 pos­ses­sions used, or nearly 43 per­cent. Rus­sell West­brook was the next clos­est with 38 pos­ses­sions. Between Paul Ge­orge and West­brook, some­one has to step up on the stout rookie, who bounced back with a strong six games in April af­ter a March slump.

5 The Thun­der gives up the sixth-most 3-point at­tempts per game (30.6) in the league and the Jazz has burned them from deep to start games be­fore. Keep­ing In­gles from open cor­ner 3 looks is key, but the Thun­der will be more com­fort­able let­ting Ru­bio bomb away than giv­ing up layups to Der­rick Fa­vors and the im­pos­ing Gobert off pen­e­tra­tion.

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