Utah could be playoff preview for Thunder

By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: April 6, 2010 at 8:30 am •  Published: April 6, 2010


Utah’s 46.7 percent shooting against the Thunder also is one of its lowest outputs against any team, far lower than the second-ranked 49.1 percent field goal shooting Utah averages.

"We match up with them well,” said Kevin Durant. "They have a big point guard. We have a big point guard. Jeff and Carlos Boozer go at it a lot. And we have a shooting center in Nenad just like they do in Okur. Down the line, it’s even. Andrei Kirilenko is long an athletic. I’m long and athletic, too. So it’s an even matchup all the way down.”

The Thunder also has had success slowing down Jazz point guard Deron Williams by assigning Thabo Sefolosha onto him. And if it comes down to bench play, Oklahoma City, with James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Eric Maynor, figures to have the edge on Utah’s Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, C.J. Miles and Ronnie Price.

Perhaps the most significant factor, however, is the success Durant has had against Utah. He’s averaged 31.3 points on 54.1 percent shooting. Those figures trail only his 37-point average on 56.1 percent shooting against Phoenix among the aforementioned four teams the Thunder is most likely to meet in the first round.

"It’s a different season. That’s going to be over with,” Durant said. "I think we have confidence no matter who we play. We have a chance, no matter who we match up against, to go in there and win.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks warns the regular season series has no bearing on tonight’s game and added the Jazz will "embarrass you” if the Thunder doesn’t play hard and match their physicality.

"The most important thing in basketball is effort and bringing that energy, whether it’s a regular season game or a playoff game,” said Brooks. "It’s important that we have that energy and effort and we usually have it. I don’t see anything changing.”

Thunder at Jazz
→When: 8 tonight

→Where: Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City

→TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722).

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, 640-AM.

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