The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder will each be missing key starters when they meet Monday night in Salt Lake City at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
For the Jazz, veteran point guard Mike Conley is expected to miss his third consecutive game with hamstring tightness. The Thunder are missing small forward Terrance Ferguson, who is expected to miss his second consecutive game with hip soreness.
Utah has dropped five of its last seven games, but won its most recent contest, 126-112 over the Memphis Grizzlies. Oklahoma City is coming off a 108-96 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Thunder’s second straight win.
With Conley out against the Grizzlies, forward Joe Ingles served as the team’s main offensive playmaker, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists. Emmanuel Mudiay also saw more action as a result of Conley’s absence, scoring 11 points to go with his seven assists in 22 minutes.
Utah had lost three straight games prior to the Memphis victory.
“It felt good to get back on a winning track. The way we played today was the way we’re supposed to play,” forward Jeff Green told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We just had to look ourselves in the mirror and figure it out as individuals, how to better the team by doing your job.”
A big part of Utah’s slump-breaking performance was their 3-point shooting. The Jazz made 19 of 34 shots from beyond the arc against Memphis, good for a 55.9 percent clip, their best of the season thus far. Prior to Saturday, Utah had not made more than 50 percent of their 3-point attempts this season.
For the Thunder, Abdel Nader started in Ferguson’s place Sunday night in Portland, scoring seven points in 19 minutes of action.
“I think they’re really trying to get some time where that can quiet down,” coach Billy Donovan said regarding Ferguson’s injury. “And I think what they don’t want to do is put him in a position where potentially he re-aggravates his hip and it sets him back even further.”
Oklahoma City’s scoring has been very balanced recently. On Sunday night, the Thunder had three players with 20 or more points and none with more than 21. That came a game after a franchise-high five players scored at least 20 in a win over Minnesota.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul has been on a tear in the last two games, scoring a combined 50 points. Prior to that, he’d scored in single digits in two of the previous three games.
This is the second meeting between the two teams, who opened the 2019-20 season against one another. The Jazz won that one 100-95. Oklahoma City held an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz scored 32 points in the fourth to come back and win.
Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points and 12 rebounds that night, becoming the first Utah player since Carlos Boozer to have at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a season opener.
–Field Level Media