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Jazz-Thunder may be a series, after all

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Jazz hit a high note with Wednesday upset of Thunder to even series at one win apiece. Thursday previews for Sixers/Heat, Blazers/Pelicans, and Warriors/Spurs plus hockey right now in VSiN City.

NBA Upset: Utah wins fourth quarter 28-16 to stun Oklahoma City

Fans had hoped Jazz/Thunder would be a competitive series. Utah’s late rally Wednesday night to even the battle is hinting at a possible classic. Concerns about Oklahoma City’s dynamic offensive weaponry being too much for Utah’s stout defense proved unfounded. Let’s see what the keys were for the Jazz…

Utah (plus 3.5) 102, Oklahoma City 95

2-point Pct: Utah 47%, Oklahoma City 46%

3-pointers: Utah 9/29, Oklahoma City 11/35

Free Throws: Utah 23/33, Oklahoma City 12/18

Rebounds: Utah 56, Oklahoma City 46

Turnovers: Utah 14, Oklahoma City 13

Pace: 98.3

Utah won the battle of the boards by 10, which is super-impressive against OKC. At the team level, it looks like free throws were the difference. Utah attacked the basket to earn 11 more makes on 15 more attempts. If you focus more on individuals, this jumps out…

Paul George 6 of 21 (4 of 12 on treys)

Russell Westbrook 7 of 19 (2 of 3 on treys)

Carmelo Anthony 6 of 18 (2 of 9 on treys)

Utah obviously figured out how to disrupt the weaponry! That’s a combined 19 of 58 for OKC’s big three. Only 8 of 24 on treys. So, it was really a combination of stellar defense on the studs and all of those extra free throws. 

Game 3 will be Saturday night in Utah on ESPN. 

Also Wednesday, Cleveland (-8.5) held off Indiana 100-97; and Houston (-10.5) bounced back with a more dominant 102-82 win over Minnesota. Now, onto Thursday previews.

NBA Preview: Embarrassed Philadelphia must play smarter to retake home court advantage vs. Miami

You’d have to think the Philadelphia 76ers learned a lesson in this past Monday’s home loss to the Heat. They can’t just goof around for 90 minutes and hope treys bail them out! Here’s a quick reminder of the team indicator stats before we run those numbers. 

Philadelphia at Miami (7 p.m. ET on TNT, series tied 1-1)

Philad.: 11.0 made treys/game, #11 offense, #3 defense, #1 rebounding

Miami: 11.0 made treys/game, #20 offense, #7 defense, #15 rebounding

Treys were a dead heat during the regular season. Philadelphia won makes in the opener 18-12, but Miami bounced back to win that category 9-7 in the rematch. The Sixers dropped from 18 of 28 to 7 of 35. Very clear stat dominance for the young upstarts from “The Process.” Obviously the defense and rebounding situation worsens if Joel Embiid can’t be much of a factor. 

Miami (plus 6.5) 113, Philadelphia 103

2-point Pct: Miami 53%, Philadelphia 55%

3-pointers: Miami 9/25, Philadelphia 7/35

Free Throws: Miami 24/30, Philadelphia 16/22

Rebounds: Miami 46, Philadelphia 49

Turnovers: Miami 16, Philadelphia 14

Pace: 99.9

Similar story here to Jazz/Thunder, though this one obviously happened first as the crow flies. Miami attacked the basket to earn eight more made free throws on eight more attempts. Philadelphia’s shooters fell back to 7 of 35 on treys because of better defense from Miami and a cooling off from a level that couldn’t be maintained. 

It’s tougher to win a series from long range because that’s such a fickle stat. Philadelphia needs to show us they can score inside and out, rather than just hoping bombs fall. As of publication deadlines, Philadelphia is -1.5, with a total of 216.5. Not much home court advantage given by the marketplace with the move from -6.5 to -1.5. Works out to just 2.5 points at each site (off a five point adjustment with the move to Miami. 

NBA Preview: Portland must find at antidote to Anthony Davis

Portland was -190 to win this series before it began. Now they’re down 2-0 with two road games coming up in short order. 

Portland at New Orleans (9 p.m. ET on NBA Network, NO leads series 2-0)

Portland: 10.3 made treys/game, #16 offense, #8 defense, #4 rebounding

N. Orle.: 10.2 made treys/game, #8 offense, #12 defense, #20 rebounding

Portland has won rebounding, but only by five total boards through two games. So, that #4 vs. #20 ranking differential hasn’t held true. Portland isn’t “dominating” the category. And, that’s a problem because Anthony Davis is crushing Damian Lillard in “the battle of team leaders.

Davis: 14 of 26 and 9 of 18 from the floor

Lillard: 6 of 23 and 7 of 18 from the floor

That’s 23 of 44 for Davis, 13 of 41 for Lillard. 

New Orleans (plus 6.5) 111, Portland 102

2-point Pct: New Orleans 52%, Portland 49%

3-pointers: New Orleans 12/24, Portland 12/32

Free Throws: New Orleans 13/19, Portland 8/10

Rebounds: New Orleans 43, Portland 45

Turnovers: New Orleans 14, Portland 16

Pace: 95.5

At the team level, New Orleans has won scoring on 1’s and 2’s by a count of 73-59 and 75-66 in the first two games. Obviously the Blazers either have to fix that, or start making about four or five more treys per game than the Pellies. Bleak out look for the Blazers because they have to break serve twice on the road to right the ship. New Orleans is -3 with a total of 216 in its playoff home opener. 

NBA Preview: Golden State’s only opponent is complacency based on early dominance of San Antonio

There is a sense of futility about running the stats here. San Antonio just doesn’t have the horses to compete in this series beyond making winning one at home. 

Golden State at San Antonio (9:30 p.m ET. on TNT, GS leads series 2-0)

Golden State: 11.3 made treys/game, #1 offense, #8 defense, #11 rebounding

San Antonio: 8.5 made treys/game, #17 offense, #4 defense, #5 rebounding

The Spurs aren’t playing like the #8 defense so far, allowing 113 and 116 points in two games with an average pace around 95. They aren’t playing like the superior rebounding team, with the Warriors actually plus 25 in rebound differential so far. Golden State is up 25-13 in made treys, an even bigger edge than expected in a category the Warriors should dominate. 

Golden State (-9.5) 116, San Antonio 101

2-point Pct: San Antonio 54%, Golden State 53%

3-pointers: San Antonio 4/28, Golden State 15/31

Free Throws: San Antonio 27/30, Golden State 19/20

Rebounds: San Antonio 35, Golden State 39

Turnovers: San Antonio 9, Golden State 15

Pace: 94.1

That 4 of 28 on treys was a killer, obviously. That allowed Golden State to coast much of the way, only going to an extra gear when needed. We may not write much about this series until the Spurs win one. Golden State is -3, with a total of 206 Thursday. 

NHL Thursday Previews: Boston, Columbus look to grab 3-1 series leads while Toronto, Washington hope to equalize

Only two games on the Thursday night ticket because the Vegas Golden Knights finished off a sweep of the Los Angeles Kings two nights ago. All action from the Eastern Conference this evening. 

Boston at Toronto (7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Boston leads 2-1)

Game 1: Boston (-160) 5, Toronto 1 (Shots: Boston 40-27)

Game 2: Boston (-175) 7, Toronto 3 (Shots: Toronto 33-28)

Game 3: Toronto (-110) 4, Boston 2 (Shots: Boston 42-30)

Not a shock at all that Toronto was able to get its first win on home ice earlier this week. But, Boston leads shot count 110-90…which is A LOT for only three games! The stats had these teams evenly matched to start the series. Boston was -150 to advance mostly because of home ice (slight edge plus home ice). Toronto must win three of the next four to advance. Thursdays game is pick-em with a total of 6.

Washington at Columbus (7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, Columbus leads 2-1)

Game 1: Columbus (plus 130) 4, Washington 3 in OT (Shots: Wash 30-27)

Game 2: Columbus (plus 140) 5, Washington 4 in OT (Shots: Wash 58-30)

Game 3: Washington (-115) 3, Columbus 2 in OT (Shots: Washington 45-35)

These teams are stuck to each other like glue! Worth nothing that the shot counts AREN’T that way, with Washington enjoying a massive 133-92 edge. Caps have to figure out a way to turn that into scoreboard space or its just trivia. Columbus is -115 Thursday night, with a total of 5.5 (over -120)

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