OKLAHOMA CITY — After losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in the offseason Tyquan Lewis Jersey , it looked like it would be a long shot for the Utah Jazz to make the playoffs.
But after a rough start, the Jazz won 29 of 34 games before losing their regular-season finale to drop to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
They’ll open the playoffs Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that looked like a lock to not only make the playoffs but compete atop the conference. But the Thunder didn’t solidify their place in the playoffs until a win in the next-to-last game of the season.
The series is one of the more intriguing first-round matchups, with Utah’s 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert providing a rim-protecting presence to combat Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook.
Gobert has also taken over as a leader after the departure of Hayward.
That included a strong statement after the Jazz dropped a game in Atlanta in late January to fall nine games below .500. At the time, Gobert tweeted, “We will be fine.”
“It’s only brighter from that point,” Gobert told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I looked at our team, our organization Marlon Mack Jersey , and I thought, ‘Why not turn things around?’ We were 19-28, but we had everything in our hands. We knew we were going to turn.”
That turnaround hinged in large part on Utah’s defense, which figures to play a big part in the series as Oklahoma City’s pick-and-roll combo of Westbrook and center Steven Adams will be tested and Paul George plays in his first postseason with the Thunder.
“As the playoffs go, the game slows down some, teams are really conscientious of getting back in transition,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “You’re always trying to find ways to carve out a way to get some easy baskets, whether it’s offensive rebounds Earnest Byner Jersey , free throws, backdoor cuts.
“But sometimes up against the clock, you need guys that can generate offense for your team, or who can make a play, make a shot or make a play for somebody else.”
Oklahoma City won the regular-season series 3-1, but the Thunder had defensive stopper Andre Roberson available for all four of those games. Roberson suffered a season-ending injury in late January, eventually opening the door for Oklahoma City to sign Corey Brewer.
George figures to draw perhaps the most important defensive assignment, taking over for Roberson in guarding Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell.
“I’m used to these matchups http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/markus-wheaton-jersey ,” George said. “I’m used to playing against the best offensive guy in these moments. That’ll be my role. Not to say Corey won’t guard (Mitchell), but that’ll definitely be my role, especially late in games.”
George guarded Mitchell on only 27 possessions during the four regular-season meetings, going 4 of 7 from the floor. Roberson guarded Mitchell for 78 possessions.
“He’s a really good attacking guard in the open floor and in transition,” Donovan said of Mitchell. “Obviously with the way he can shoot it, I think his strength and physicality. He does a lot of different things for them in transition and in half court while also creating for himself.”
The unfolding Washington cheerleader scandal has apparently cost at least one executive his job.
According to Craig Hoffman of 106.7 The Fan, team executive Dennis Greene has resigned.
Greene was previously the team’s president of business operations, but those duties were taken over when Brian Lefemina was hired from the league office two weeks ago. As recently as this morning Josh Sitton Jersey , Greene was listed on the team website as president of hospitality.
The resignation came just before a new story in the New York Times which listed new details about Greene’s involvement in a trip to Costa Rica in which cheerleaders said they felt like escorts. The team had promised they were “immediately looking into” the allegations.
Greene had been with the team since 2001.
It’s unclear based on the report from The Fan if Greene was removed specifically because of the cheerleader story or for other reasons.
The Times article details the involvement of the cheerleader ambassadors, who weren’t actual cheerleaders, but attractive props who made appearances on behalf of the team. Greene would reportedly survey a line of the ambassadors before games.
鈥淗e would look each of us up and down and say, I want that one and that one, and everyone hated when you got selected for that,鈥?a former ambassador said to the Times. 鈥淚t was humiliating, like we were cattle.鈥?/p> Womens Jessie Bates III Jersey