After a quick sweep of the Denver Nuggets, a defensive handicap team, we embark on a new journey: Round 2 of the playoffs. And for the first time after the Post-Shaq Era! We’re transitioning from a high octane offensive team that can score on you in many ways with very little defensive cohesion, to a disciplined defensive team in the Utah Jazz, who have some prolific scorers in Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer who are undoubtedly on top of the Lakers’ radar. But it’s their role players that we need to keep an eye on.
Deron Williams- the thing to note about Williams is how his Jazz teammates play around him.
Carlos Boozer- he’s their biggest threat in the post, look for him to get a bulk load of attention by the Lakers considering Utah’s other big, Mehmet Okur, floats along the perimeter for the most part.
Mehmet Okur- he’ll be getting some attention as well considering he’s a 7’0 big that can shoot the ball well from outside.
The other two starters, Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirlenko, do what they are told and do it well, very well. AK47’s the guy that is assigned most of the dirty work for the Jazz, guarding the opposing teams best player, filling in the void of a big in the post since Okur usually isn’t there, and just playing flat out solid defense against whoever the coach assigns him to. He isn’t much of a threat offensively, but anyone can be if you give them opportunities, which is one thing we can’t do, give anyone opportunities because they’re all very capable of scoring. Ronnie Brewer is probably the weakest link they have in their starting lineup, averaging 27 minutes and 8.6 points this year in the playoffs. For a weak link, that’s not that bad at all.
Seeing as how this is a Jerry Sloan team you can’t expect them to play anything like the Nuggets. Expect to see Brewer trying his best on Kobe for as long as he can. Otherwise, Kirilenko will be the one defending him, which means we’ll see Brewer playing on Vlad more and I HOPE he takes advantage of that. Hopefully he’ll get his shooting touch back with Kobe seeing more double teams in this series.
The next major assignment would be Pau Gasol on Mehmet Okur, which I think Pau has the upper hand in, considering Okur isn’t much of a threat inside.
Carlos Boozer on Lamar is one of the most concerning matchups, but shouldn’t be much of a problem as Pau will be in the post as well, which will give spacing to both players. So if we see man to man we may it might be difficult for Odom to operate. But if Pau is being a force and there’s spacing inside, expect to see Lamar aggressive.
Deron Williams on Derek Fisher-Williams is quick and shouldn’t have a problem covering Fisher. When Deron does rotate for a double, Fisher will take advantage as always. That’s the only time we should really expect to see anything offensively from Fish unless he’s pushing the ball in transition or getting fouled.
Defensivley the Lakers shouldn’t have much of a problem as they match up pretty well with the Jazz. We just have to deny Williams penetration because as I stated before, their offense goes through him. So stopping that means stopping the Jazz.
Moving to the bench, we have one of the strongest in the league and about to get some reinforcement with Ariza on the brink of a return. The Jazz have a great bench as well with some players that could be more of a concern than most would think. The impact players include: Kyle Korver,Paul Milsap, and Matt Harping. Korver will be the biggest threat as he can score in a hurry. The key for us will be keeping a body on him and everyone else. They have multiple players who can play multiple positions and can shoot from behind the arc.
Paul Milsap may not have a big impact in this series being undersized for the position he plays, but you can’t underestimate him or Harping. They both rack down loose balls and offensive rebounds. Against us anyway.
That’s why questioning this team’s heart can be a big mistake. Jerry Sloan’s mental toughness is tattooed on their hearts. This series will be won by whoever plays with more passion. That’ll be the difference maker as we strive for our ultimate goal.