The Thunder-Jazz series may end up being the most exciting playoff matchup in the first round. Donovan Mitchell has overachieved all season and shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook along with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony look to prove doubters wrong and make a lot of noise in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
In Game 1, the Jazz jumped out to an early lead but the Thunder quickly caught up and though it was fairly close throughout, the Thunder had a nice grip on this game for the most part. And the main reason for this was Paul George. He stepped up and became the player we were expecting to see since he was traded to OKC. George lit up the Jazz with 36 points on 8-11 shooting from deep. They had no answer for him. Most times, it seemed as if he was toying with his defenders. As a Thunder fan, it was a relief to see that Westbrook did not have to do it all by himself. If PG13 can do this more consistently and we can get more scoring (and some defense) from Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder can become a serious threat to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.
It’s important to note that Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. If you watched the game, you’d see that Westbrook doesn’t need to stat chase to get his numbers. He just wants the ball more than everyone else. As he’s said in the past, Spaulding (the basketball) is his only friend on the court. Whether he’s joking or not, he sure plays like it. I find it hard to believe Westbrook needs anyone to help him get stats when he tries harder than everyone on the court every second of every game. He is the best player in this matchup and the reason the Thunder will win.
Donovan Mitchell looked like a 10 year vet in this game. You certainly couldn’t tell this was his first playoff game or that he is a rookie. He easily led the Jazz in scoring with 27 points and it’s clear they would not have stood a chance without his great play. I found myself wanting to root for him and the Jazz, and would have been if they were playing any other team except the Thunder. Mitchell hurt his toe during the game and was noticeably limping. The coach decided to pull him from the game to the guard’s dismay. He was visibly upset on the bench, exclaiming he was fine and can continue playing so the coach put him back in the game. He is the type of player everyone should want on their team and will quickly become one of the elite guards in the NBA. Don’t be surprised to see Mitchell continue his great play for the rest of Thunder-Jazz matchup.
I expect all of the games in this series to be fairly close; however, the Thunder have more star power and in the NBA this matters. My prediction is that the Thunder will win the series in 5 games, but it will be a very exciting 5 games as we got a nice taste in game 1.
What are your thoughts? Think the Thunder will win the series against the Utah Jazz? Or will the Jazz flip the script on them? Let me know.