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 Asking Price Steep for Steven Adams
As the Oklahoma City Thunder look to create some cap relief, they are shopping big man Steven Adams, but don’t seem to be finding any takers.
According to Matt George of 1140 KHTK, Oklahoma City’s asking price for Adams is viewed as “too high.”
Moving Adams won’t be easy as he is owed more than $53 million for the next two seasons in his contract.
Adams is coming off a season in which he scored 13.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for the Thunder last season.
Thunder Shopping Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Dennis Schroder, 21st Pick
The Oklahoma City Thunder are shopping a ton of assets in an effort to clear some salary space.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer, the Thunder are making center Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and point guard Dennis Schroder available, in addition with the 21st pick in the draft, in an effort to shed salary.
Oklahoma City currently has nearly $140 million guaranteed for the 2019-20 season, above the luxury tax threshold.
Blazers’ Damian Lillard Discusses Game Winning Shot
In the ultimate last work towards the trash talking Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard hit a ridiculous, buzzer-beating 3-point shot to eliminate the Thunder on Tuesday.
The shot will live on for an eternity and Lillard took time to discuss the dagger that sent the talking Russell Westbrook and his team packing.
“I was blanking out,” Lillard said, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I was having my own thoughts. I was … angry. Not that type of anger like I was mad, but anger like I was in a rage.”
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