Jazz aim to continue road dominance vs. Thunder

NBA Basketball

The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder could be heading toward a second playoff meeting in three seasons.

On Wednesday, the Jazz and the Thunder meet in Oklahoma City in what could be a playoff preview and an important game for each as they battle in the Western Conference standings.

The Jazz reside one game ahead of the Thunder for the No. 4 spot in the West.

Utah is coming off a 101-92 loss to visiting Toronto but has won five of its last six overall and six consecutive road games. The Jazz’s last road loss came Feb. 1.

In Monday’s loss to the Raptors, Utah shot just 39.8 percent from the floor.

“Obviously if we’ve got an open shot, we’re gonna take it — everyone’s got that responsibility to take a shot if you’re open and it’s a good shot,” guard Joe Ingles said after Monday’s loss.

“A lot of the time we do a really good job with that. Every shot that we took, I think was good. There might be a couple (bad shots), but overall really good shots, and we’ll take ’em again Wednesday.”

The Thunder have won three consecutive games and are 17-5 in their last 22 contests.

Eleven of Oklahoma City’s wins during that stretch have come by 10 or fewer points.

Overall, the Thunder have won 29 games when games are in “clutch” situations — the margin is five points or less in the final five minutes. No other team in the league has won more than 26 games in such situations. Utah is third with 25 such wins.

“We just have a lot of fight,” veteran point guard Chris Paul said after the Thunder came back from an 18-point deficit against the Celtics at Boston on Sunday. “A lot of fight.

“All season long we’ve been winning these types of games. … We just never give up.”

Wednesday’s game is the third of four meetings between the teams this season, with the teams splitting their first two.

They have yet to meet in Oklahoma City and their last meeting was more than three months ago, though.

Dennis Schroder came off the bench to score 27 points in that last meeting — a 104-90 road win by the Thunder on Dec. 9.

Two seasons ago, the Jazz knocked out the Thunder in six games in the first round.

But while Utah’s core remains the same — Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Ingles are key figures for the Jazz — the Thunder’s roster looks completely different.

Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson are the only players that remain from that series, and Ferguson averaged barely more than a minute per game in the set.

Oklahoma City is expected to have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander available after the second-year guard missed Sunday’s win at Boston with a right hip contusion.

Gilgeous-Alexander fully participated in Tuesday’s practice, though Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he would be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.

The Thunder remain without forward Darius Bazley, who remains at least two weeks away from returning after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee four weeks ago.

–Field Level Media

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