In one is easily one of the most intriguing first-round matchups of the 2018 NBA playoffs, the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder will take on the No. 5 Utah Jazz.
All games in this series will be broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2, TNT or NBA TV (full schedule). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch all of the games live on your computer, phone, video game console, or other streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
DirecTV Now: ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages, while NBA TV is included in the “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” bundles. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in the “Sling Orange” channel package, while NBA TV is in the “Sports Extra” add-on. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, which includes ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT. You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the games on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WatchESPN: You can also watch games that are broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Watching on these platforms require you to sign in to a TV provider, but you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now or Sling TV credentials to do exactly that.
The Thunder won three of four during the season against the Jazz, but all of those games came before Christmas–and a lot has changed since then.
Perhaps most notably among those changes was the injury to Andre Roberson, OKC’s elite wing defender who ruptured his patellar tendon back on January 27. He may not get as much acclaim as the Thunder’s Big 4, but in those wins against the Jazz, OKC was plus-59 with Roberson on the floor and minus-20 with him on the bench. Additionally, since his injury the Thunder are 15th in the NBA–and 12th among playoff teams–in defensive rating.
Another big difference: the looming presence of Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower missed Utah’s two worst losses to OKC while recovering from a sprained PCL that cost him 15 games (Utah went 4-11 in those games), but since his return on January 19, the Jazz are first in the NBA–by a country mile–in defensive rating and first in net rating. During that span, they went 30-8 to close the season, which is second only to the Rockets.
Those stats seemingly favor Utah, but these teams ultimately stack up very closely with lots of intriguing matchups all over the court. You’ve got Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell in his first postseason, where he’ll likely see a lot of elite defender Paul George. You’ve got Gobert and Steven Adams going to war on the inside. You’ve got Westbrook attacking the rim in his relentless style, where Gobert will be waiting. You’ve got Carmelo vs. Derrick Favors, which could be an X-factor type matchup. You’ve got the intriguing role guys, like Joe Ingles and Jerami Grant.
This is going to be a super fun series, and it wouldn’t at all be surprising if it went seven games.