It’s quietly been one of the most intense and surprising series in the Western Conference first round Playoffs, but nobody can continue to ignore the physicality of the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s battle out West.
Things got chippy again from the jump in Game 4, and the Jazz promptly handed a beatdown to the favored Thunder, who many picked to challenge for a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
“This is the playoffs. It’s going to be war,” Jazz guard Ricky Rubio said (h/t ESPN). “You’re playing seven games and you’ve got to win four. We know that it’s going to be another war next game, and we just need to be tough but at the same time mentally ready for that. We’re not backing down, but at the same time we know we have to be ready for a fight and respond.”
Speaking of Rubio, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who pledged to shut down Rubio after his hot performance in Game 3, again struggled to cover Rubio, picking up four fouls in the first half, all on Rubio.
After the game, Westbrook took a different tone when talking about Rubio, who has, at times, schooled Westbrook during the series.
“It’s not about me and him,” Westbrook said when asked about his approach to guarding Rubio. “Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.”
Guarantees are a funny thing, aren’t they?
The series has been heated, to say the least, and Game 4 was no different as a total of seven technical fouls were called, and one near ejection.
“It’s basketball. It’s the playoffs,” Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. “Guys get physical doing certain things. As long as you don’t hurt yourself and don’t do anything crazy, just got to keep your composure and get on to the next play sometimes.”
“Every game has been physical,” Jazz big man Rudy Gobert said. “At the end of the day, it’s basketball, and even if you try to do something else, we’re just going to keep playing basketball.”
The Jazz are shocking the NBA with their dismantling of the Thunder, who formed a big 3 last offseason to make a championship run.
Utah isn’t having that.
“We just stayed within ourselves,” said Utah’s rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell.
“We always say the strength of our team is the strength of our team. I said this morning we’re not really worried about one individual comment. I think if we get caught up in that, it takes us out of our own game, and our play showed tonight that we really just focused on each other and made the right plays when we needed to.”
Thunder’s Andre Roberson to be Re-Evaluated in Two Months
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson has suffered an unfortunate setback in his rehabilitation from left patellar knee surgery that will set him back an additional two months in his recovery, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.
The setback required Roberson undergo surgery on Thursday, according to a team spokesperson. Roberson’s recovery has not been without it’s hurdles as he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee over the summer to relieve inflammation that developed during his rehab.
Roberson, 25, will be re-evaluated in two months but he will need even more time to prepare for a return to action this upcoming season.
Thunder’s Russell Westbrook Has Knee Surgery, May Miss Games
The Oklahoma City Thunder may be without All-Pro guard Russell Westbrook for the start of the 2018-2019 regular season after Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.
Westbrook, who will be re-evaluated in four weeks, could miss the first few games of the regular season.
Thunder Waive Kyle Singler
The Oklahoma City Thunder are waiving forward Kyle Singler, who will be waived using the stretch provision to help reduce the cost of this year’s roster for the Thunder, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Singler will become an unrestricted free agent once he officially clears waivers.
Singler is owed $4,996,000 for the 2018-2019 season aand $5,333,500 for 2019-2020, but his second-year salary is non-guaranteed leaving Oklahoma City responsible for only his salary for this season.
It also gives the Thunder the ability to stretch the cap hit across five seasons.
Singler averaged 1.9 points per game over 12 games last season for Oklahoma City.
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