Jazz Will Have Oklahoma City Singing the Blues After Game 3

jazz thunder

Doug Upstone

Friday, April 20, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 20, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

When a series is tied, Game 3 is normally the pivot point of a series. This is likely the case for Oklahoma City and Utah, with each trying to snag the upper hand on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Coming into this Western Conference 4 seed vs. 5 seed series, many of those making NBA picks saw the potential of an upset with No. 5 Utah, which finished the regular season furiously. Oklahoma City had the stars, but the Jazz were in great harmony with a 17-4 close (12-9 ATS).

The Thunder's stars did most of the damage in the Game 1 victory, but after a 19-0 third quarter run in Game 2, Oklahoma City's power trio barely made noise late and Utah stole the second game to square the series. With a shift to Utah, the NBA odds have the Jazz as a four-point favorite with a total of 207 on Saturday. ESPN will televise this tilt at 10:05 ET and here are the particulars of this contest.

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Oklahoma City (8-5 ATS Road Dog) at Utah (15-16 ATS Home Fave)Free NBA Pick: UtahBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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As opposed to the series opener, Oklahoma City did not play with the same enthusiasm and temperament in Game 2. They trailed by seven at the half, but in the third quarter OKC went on a ridiculous 19-0 run to grab the lead and looked like a runaway winner, being up 10 points. Then, the Thunder went cold, colder than John Cena cold (ask his former fiancée). Superstars Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were a collective 0-for-14 in the fourth quarter, at home no less.

With Utah fans no longer lamenting the loss of Gordon Hayward, they will be wildly enthusiastic and the only way for Oklahoma City to curb this is by making shots. Westbrook has to find that mental balance between being passive/aggressive (distributor and scorer), while George and Anthony have to take good shots and not force them.

OKC plays like coach Billy Donovan looks on the bench, not really sure of itself. The Thunder have to play with confidence to win.

Gordon Who? There's a New Star in Salt Lake City

Rookie Donovan Mitchell had a nice career at Louisville and was the 13th pick in the draft. Yet it was never said, at least in public circles, he would be a better pro than a college player. Nonetheless, the 21-year-old takes over for the face of the franchise (Hayward) and all he does is lead the team in scoring. With Mitchell making his playoff debut, all he does is break Michael Jordan's points record (53) for a guard in his first two games with 55 points and doing so on a sore left foot.

For Utah to win and cover both home games, the Jazz will need another superior effort from forward Derrick Favors (20 points, 16 boards) and have Ricky Rubio dishing dimes (9) and making three's (5) like the last game. Above all, coach Quin Snyder will lean on the Jazz's vaunted defense and big man Rudy Gobert.

What to Expect?

In the playoffs is where coaching really matters, making game by game decisions and adjustments. At this juncture, it seems Snyder is further along than Donovan as an NBA head coach. With Oklahoma City still far from a dependable team and Utah having the ability to slow the Thunder's three stars, collective or individually with their defense, watch OKC slide to 5-18 ATS revenging a same season loss.

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