Saturday, May 03, 2008

2nd Round Preview--LAL-UTAH

Lakers (1) vs. Jazz (4):

Battle of the two best offenses in the NBA. Two of the most unique offenses in the league that are heavily reliant on passing--Lakers with their Triangle & Utah with their Flex/Motion variations. The Lakers looked scary good on offense vs. the Nugs, while the Jazz had a rough go vs. Houston. Although that might have something to do with the difference in defenses the teams had to face in the 1st round.

Jazz are a tough cover because they run your whole team thru a parade of screens and have multiple options & counters on each possession. No team utilizes more off-the-ball movement & off-ball screens than Utah. They will shoot cutters down the lane often--Brewer does a great job of this--and also sneaking along the baseline. Watch for the constant screening across the baseline (flex cut/screens)--Harpring is a master down there drawing fouls or pinning his man for quick post-ups.

Deron will run the pick/roll with Booze, and with the way Deron is shooting, choosing how to defend him is a chore. Think Phil should put Kobe on Deron for short stints to see what he can do. Deron will also use the UCLA cut where he will pass the ball to the side than rub off the high post man & cut toward the basket for either a lay-in or seal into a quick post-up.

Think they need to call some more straight post-ups for Boozer outside of their motion/flex continuity action; just traditional post-up play for Boozer to utilize his tremendous footwork & see if Odom can handle him down low. Not enough Boozer post-ups were called in the Rockets series.

If Kirilenko & Brewer can do a decent job of hitting their jumpers, the Jazz have a great shot at winning this series, because those two will be given space to help on Booze & Deron. Okur & Korver need to shoot the ball a little better than they did in the 1st round. Look for Okur to pop up to the opposite side while Deron runs off a ball screen & looks to hit Memo for a long jumper.

Some are saying that the Jazz have no one to guard Kobe. But what team does have a good answer for Kobe anyways? Brewer & Kirilenko are about as good a tandem to check Kobe as you can find in the league, outside maybe Bowen or Battier, and they did an admirable job hounding McGrady.

Kobe-Pau pick/roll has turned into a very tough cover, and something outside the Triangle that Jax will & should go to. Gasol gives them another multi-talented big who fits seamlessly in the Triangle thanks to his passing skills. Odom & Walton can also post, and are both skillful passers out of the post. Then they let Kobe iso on the opposite elbow like Jordan. LA has endless options on offense.

One Laker flaw that could be magnified in this series is their rebounding. The Jazz are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league, and the Lakers were a middling def. rebounding team during the reg. season. The one negative from the Nugs series was LA got hurt on the boards +6 per game. They did a crappy job keeping Denver off the off. glass--Nugs grabbed 16.5 off rpg that led to just a 65.5% def. reb pct. for LA. Something to keep an eye on.

Lakers are just simply a scary offensive unit. Great size at every position, multiple shooters, the best depth in the NBA, and have the ultimate closer--no, not Kyra Sedgwick--Kobe. Lakers' size matches up well with the Jazz as well. Plus, the Jazz are a very shaky road team and they're gonna have to steal one in LA to advance, and if Lakers take one in Utah, can't foresee any way they win 2 games in Staples.