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Utah Jazz

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz have framework but Thunder have Paul George

David Locke

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SUMMARY: A brilliant performance from Paul George give the Oklahoma City Thunder a game 1 win in the best of 7 playoff series.

• The Thunder were really good tonight. Namely, Paul George was really good tonight. A lot of the Jazz wanted to do took place tonight and a lot of the areas where the Thunder are really good they were able to control the game and get the win.

• Paul George was the story. He was the best player on the floor by a mile. His first half was great. He was solid on both sides of the floor. Defensively he took Joe Ingles out of the game completely. For the first time all season Joe had no rebounds and no assists. The Jazz pick and roll has been at its best for Joe and he couldn’t get it rolling with Paul George guarding him.

• Then after a really good first half Paul George went bananas in the third quarter. He finished with his 4th highest playoff scoring output 36 point. He set a new personal high with 8 three pointers on 10 attempts. He only took 20 shots for his 36 points. He was great.

• Paul George has a shot in his arsenal that I am not sure anyone else in the game can make. He comes off a pick shoulder to shoulder with the picker who is also handing him the ball and then he stops for a three. The reason I am not sure anyone else has this is because you have to be his size. It is impossible to guard and he gets off it off when he has barely cleared the man giving him the ball.

• The Thunder had a lot going tonight. They hit on 14 of 29 from three, but that is really just Paul George as they were 6 of 19 other than George.

• A lot of what the Jazz wanted to happen happened in this game other than Paul George. Russell Westbrook went 10 of 25 and he got two fast break dunks and other than that did all of his damage in the mid range. He went 0 for 3 from three. The Jazz were committed to not letting him create opportunities for his teammates and for most of the night he had just 5 assists. The game plan on Westbrook was good and was good enough to win the Jazz a game.

• Carmelo Anthony got it going on Jonas Jerebko for a little while but by the end of the night was 5 of 13 for 15 points. Nothing that is going to beat you.

• The Jazz have a significant issue they have to deal with on the offensive glass of the Thunder. Steven Adams is a beast and the Thunder were 7 of 9 on 2nd chances for 19 points.

• The Jazz tried everything on Paul George even to the point that they double him with the ball and tried to rotate out of it. It lead to two Abrines 3 point shots. That is not really who the Jazz are defensively but it got that point that they needed to try something.

• Donovan Mitchell made his playoff debut and was as fabulous as he has been all season. He was unphased. He had 9 points in the first quarter. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds. He took deep shots, finished at the rim, hit floaters. He was terrific.

• Donovan left the game with an injury foot and then came back, went out and finished the game. Quin Snyder said after the game they believe nothing to wrong, but they will take more images.

• The Thunder ability to negate Joe Ingles with Paul George is a big concern for me in the rest of the season. I wonder if Quin might stagger Joe into the minutes when Paul George is off the floor so he can have some impact on the game.

• Ricky Rubio finished 5 of 18 and 0 for 3 from three. He was 3 of 13 outside the paint.

• The Thunder have been awful this season when Paul George is on the floor with the bench and tonight it worked.

• Jazz didn’t have a good defensive night. They allowed a 115 pts per 100 possesions.

• The Jazz should be able to get three point looks off against the Thunder and by the end of the night it was 11 of 28 but the Jazz hit a few late to inflate those numbers when the game was out of reach.

• Overall, the Thunder played great and Paul George did what starts do. If one of their stars has a night like these each night it will be a short series. However, if they don’t the Jazz have the foundation on how to win a game in this series.

David Locke enters his ninth year as the radio play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, having spent the majority of his career in radio in Salt Lake City and Seattle. In the summer of 2016, Locke created the Locked on Podcast Network which has podcast daily bite sized podcasts for every NBA and NFL team. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Locke graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Locke and his wife have a son and a daughter.

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