The Uncontested crew came together for the very first Round Table! Below are our responses to 5 burning questions for round 1.
1. How confident are you in the Thunder heading into round 1?
Kamiar (@BoomTownRW): on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 5. OKC and Utah have conflicting styles of play and they don’t mesh well. This thing could flip either way— but you have to consider the experience the Thunder bring to the table.
Jacob (@ThunderMob405): About as confident as Parzival - aka Wade Watts - was in finding Halliday’s easter egg. That is to say; I’m cautiously optimistic. Oklahoma City closed the season strong, found ways to win close 4th quarter finishes, and Paul George may have started to find his stroke once again.
Nick (@2Crainz): On a scale from 1-10, I am a 7.5. Maybe I shouldn’t be based on how we performed in the regular season, but Utah doesn’t scare me at all. If we play the way we are capable of, we should handle them easily. We stepped up in most big games this year.
Justin (@JHickness9): I feel really confident in OKC going into round one vs the Jazz. Utah isn’t a team that will light up the scoreboard every single night, so I feel as long as OKC can score the ball like they did over the final stretch then they will win this series. I see a lot of people predicting this series to go 6 or 7 games but I actually see OKC winning in 5. Russell Westbrook is on a mission to once again silence all his critics. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have been hitting their shots lately as well and I think that will be key when the game slows down to half court sets, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are great players but when you have Russ, Melo and PG going against Ingles, Crowder and Rubio, I like my chances in that department. Thunder in 5 and a date with Houston in the semifinals.
Tayler (@Tayler_P15): I actually feel pretty confident heading into this series. The Thunder have won four out of their last five games, with one of those losses being to the Warriors in a game I felt was very much within reach. This is also the only playoff contender outside of the Warriors that the Thunder had a tiebreaker against. I feel the Thunder match up well against the Jazz and will win because of that.
2. Which Jazz player will give The Thunder the most trouble?
Kamiar (@BoomTownRW): is it too obvious to say Donovan Mitchell? Because it is. This series will hinge on the play of Ricky Rubio & Rudy Gobert. If OKC can get those two out of their comfort zone, it’ll look good for OKC.
Jacob (@ThunderMob405): I’m going with Rudy Gobert here, primarily defensively. Westbrook and George will try to get to the rim, or set up Steven Adams on pick-and-roll opportunities. If Gobert is able to defensively own the paint and protect the basket, it could be a very difficult series.
Nick (@2Crainz): Joe Ingles. Just like when we have a great record when Russ records a triple double, the Jazz have a great record when Ingles hits his shots.
Justin (@JHickness9): Rudy Gobert because of his defensive presence, he is as good as they come in the paint and players fear that. Reminds me of Serge Ibaka in OKC 2011-2014, players will stay away from that area and be forced to win games by jump shooting. Russell Westbrook fears no one so I definitely expect him to try and throw down the hammer on Gobert once or twice to show he isn’t invincible.
Tayler (@Tayler_P15): There is obviously a lot of uncertainty around the performance of Donovan Mitchell in his first ever playoff series. However, I still feel that Rudy Gobert will give the Thunder the most trouble. His long athleticism and shot blocking ability will present many issues for the Thunder. The Thunder are going to need Steven Adams to play well on both ends and to play Gobert physical.
3. What is one reason why Thunder fans should be optimistic heading into this series?
Kamiar (@BoomTownRW): Russell Fucking Westbrook
Jacob (@ThunderMob405): They have playoff tested stars. Westbrook, Melo, PG, and Adams. This team has talked all season about being a team “built for the playoffs” and now they get to show why.
Nick (@2Crainz): Two Words: Playoff Melo. We’ve been hinting at this all year. I think he will exploit his matchup at the offensive end all series.
Justin (@JHickness9): Thunder have a ton of playoff experience on their roster, that matters when games slow down and you’ve been battle tested. Also we have a guy by the name of Russell Westbrook who is pissed off about last season. OKC won’t go down in any game without swinging as long as #0 is on the court.
Tayler (@Tayler_P15): Outside of the reasons I mentioned in Question 1, Thunder fans should be optimistic for this series because of the Thunder’s playoff history. As many players will tell you, the Playoffs are a different animal with much more pressure and a different environment than the regular season. As Jacob mentioned on our Playoff Preview podcast, of the Thunder’s nine most prominent players, seven of them have played in more than one playoff series. Those nine also have a total of 363 playoff games beneath their belts. That is huge going up against an inexperienced Jazz team.
Also, go to Google.com. Search, “Best Russell Westbrook Playoff Highlights”. Watch those highlights. Now go back and search, “Best Steven Adams Playoff Highlights”. Watch said highlights. Finally, go back and search, “Best Paul George Playoff Highlights”. Watch highlights. You are welcome...
4. Hot Take: What is your boldest take/prediction for Thunder vs. Jazz?
Kamiar (@BoomTownRW): Jae Crowder is gonna be a big part of Utah success during the series.
Jacob (@ThunderMob405): Steven Adams will completely overwhelm Rudy Gobert with his size and strength. By game 4, Gobert will want nothing to do with the Big Kiwi.
Nick (@2Crainz): Ricky Rubio does not score more than 10 points in any game over the span of the series.
Justin (@JHickness9): Ricky Rubio will shoot 50% from the 3 point line, dude is complete ass shooting the 3 pointer but somehow always shoots it well vs OKC.
Tayler (@Tayler_P15): Billy Donovan will out coach Quin Snyder, having better rotations and playoff schemes.
5. Prediction: Who wins the series, how many games, and why?
Kamiar (@BoomTownRW): Utah in 6… What a fucking loser (this is Justin)
Jacob (@ThunderMob405): Thunder in six. I originally said Thunder in seven, but I have some (mainly unfounded) belief in OKCs stars to perform when the lights are the brightest.
Nick (@2Crainz): Thunder in 5. Would be a sweep but there will be a game where PG & Melo go 0-20 combined.
Justin (@JHickness9): Thunder in 5, can’t finish it in Utah because the strip clubs and bars are 2/10.
Tayler (@Tayler_P15): Thunder in six. Go see previous answers to Questions 1 and Questions 3. Thunder Up!
Photo Credit: Deseret News