Jazz vs. Thunder preview: Can Utah pull off the upset?

US PRESSWIRE

Utah has won a road game just once in the past two months. Can the Jazz get a much-needed win over OKC on Wednesday night?

In the past two months, the Utah Jazz have won a game away from home just once. On Wednesday night, they visit one of the league's elite teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder, badly in need of a victory to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

Currently ninth in the Western Conference standings with a 33-31 record, Utah is just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final postseason spot in the conference. With a win over OKC, the Jazz could jump back into the playoff mix while getting a rare victory away from EnergySolutions Arena.

Once seemingly sitting pretty with a solid grasp on a lower seed, Utah collapsed in recent weeks as the Lakers surged to snag the No. 8 spot. With seven losses in their past nine games, the Jazz have rarely looked like a team battling to land a postseason bid.

Playing on the road has been particularly rough for Utah, a team that's dominated opponents at home but failed to bring that success elsewhere. After losing all four games on a recent road trip through the East, the Jazz have now won on the road just once in their past nine attempts.

Overall, Utah is 10-23 away from Salt Lake City this season.

Though it almost goes without saying, Oklahoma City has fared far better than Utah in recent weeks. A loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday ended a five-game winning streak, but the Thunder are still just 1½ games out of first place in the West.

The OKC offense hasn't been as prolific as usual in recent days -- the team has scored fewer than 95 points in three of its past four games -- but that's not really a concern when the team averaged 111 points per game in the 15 games preceding the current rough patch.

Defense will likely be the bigger concern for the Thunder, as Utah boasts one of the best interior offenses in the league with Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. That post presence allowed the Jazz to dominate OKC in their matchup last month, as Welcome to Loud City, SB Nation's Thunder blog, notes.

With the Lakers taking on the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night, the Jazz could potentially swap places with L.A. and take back the eighth seed if things go right. A Jazz win and Lakers loss would put Utah a half-game ahead for the final playoff seed.

Wednesday's game begins at 8 p.m. ET.

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