Utah Jazz vs OKC Thunder – Game 5
NBA: 9.30 PM EST
April 25, 2018
The subject of intrigue surrounding the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder series for the past 24 hours had been whether the league would suspend OKC star Russell Westbrook for his role in an altercation in Game 4, in which he came off the bench onto the floor to accost Jazz C Rudy Gobert.
Despite a precedent on the league to hand down a suspension in the playoffs for such actions (see: 2007 Phoenix Suns), the NBA has announced that Westbrook will be fined and assessed a technical foul, but will be eligible to play in Game 5. As a result, Vegas has opened with the Thunder as 3.5-point favorites, despite trailing 3-1 and facing elimination in this series.
I backed Oklahoma City to make a strong showing in Game 4 led by their supreme individual talent, and for the second straight contest in Salt Lake City, their stars faulted.
Westbrook accumulated 4 fouls in the first half of play, the “Big 3” finished 20-56 from the field, and perhaps most damning, the Thunder made a paltry 5 three-point shots in 48 minutes. The Jazz, meanwhile, continue to be strong offensively, led by Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, and Joe Ingles.
So much of Oklahoma City’s offense is predicated on the success of their major players, as evidenced by Paul George’s incredible performance in Game 1, that it’s really difficult to determine which way any given game with them might go. If George, Westbrook, and Anthony can catch fire, the series may well be shifting back to Utah. But if they play anything like we’ve seen the past two games, they might be eliminated on their home floor.
For my money, I’m more comfortable backing a team that has proven to be able to generate effective offense and consistently get shot attempts from high-efficiency areas on the floor, and that’s the Utah Jazz.
Our NBA Free Tip: Utah Jazz +4