The Jazz are currently half a game in front of the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot. They cannot afford to start losing this late in the season. Not only must the Jazz win, but they need to win with some confidence that they can carry into their remaining games. With a win, Utah will be in the perfect position to make the 2013 NBA Playoffs with just three games remaining.
Oklahoma City needs to win this game in order to move into position to be a half game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the first seed in the West. The Thunder will want to try and get this seed because then they will play a weaker team instead of (most likely) the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors. Both of these teams are young and great from three-point range; defending from three late in games has been Oklahoma City’s greatest weakness all season long. The Thunder want to play the Lakers or Utah because they will be confident that they can win the first round with ease.
Expect Utah’s balanced offense and defense to be no match for OKC’s extremely talented offense and defense; they just don’t have anyone that can stop Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The Jazz need this game to cement their place in front of the Lakers, but the Thunder want to finish the season strong. Oklahoma City will win this game fairly easily and Utah will be forced to continue to battle the Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks for the final NBA playoff spot in the West.