First off, hereâ€™s the timing update on the second round from the Salt Lake Tribune: â€œIf the Jazz win Friday, the Lakers and Jazz will meet at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday. If the Jazz lose and head back to Houston for Game 7, the second round won’t begin until Tuesday night.â€
Second, there is a great Lamar Odom interview up at Lamar Odomâ€™s personal Web site well worth checking out.
Tomorrow night Iâ€™ll be sitting in front of the TV closely watching the Jazz and Rockets, while on my laptop Iâ€™ll be scrutinizing the Derby contenders (man this is a wild and slow year for three year olds). Maybe tomorrow night will change my mind, but Iâ€™m still leaning toward the Jazz in the next round, so here are some of your great thoughts on the matchups:
Utahâ€™s reserves-except for Harpring-are very young. They can get flustered and do silly things and let the other team get on a roll. (Prob the main reason for road woes is they have so many young players playing key supporting roles and young players tend to disappear on the road and do very well at home.)
Utahâ€™s help defense on the initial penetration is excellent, but their weakside, off-ball rotations are horrible. The Rockets have not been able to capitalize on this as their â€œbigsâ€ have shown a remarkable inability to score off the pass. Scola-until Game 5-has been so worried about getting his shot blocked heâ€™s throwing fakes when no one is close to him, allowing the D to recover. Hayes has no lift and Motumbo has to gather himself. The Lakers shouldnâ€™t have the same problems converting as Lamar is taller than the Rockets PFs and will dunk it and Gasol should feast on the steady diet of point-blank shots heâ€™ll get. So long as Kobe is willing to pass instead of trying to force it into teeth of Jazz D the Lakers should be in great shape.
Because Kirilenko is their primary help defender, Radmanovic should get a lot of open looks. If he makes his shots, he hurts the Jazz; and if he misses open looks he hurts the Lakers. So, Iâ€™m going to ambiguously predict Radmanovic will do a lot of damage.
On the front courts, I hope Odom matches up with Boozer and Pau with Okur. Both because of the rebounding issue mentioned by Harold and because Odom is so superior a pick and roll defender (perhaps Pauâ€™s biggest flaw). Iâ€™d love to see someone with length take Deron (Kobe, Ariza) so that switching on the pick and roll isnâ€™t disastrous.
We have great length on the front-line and Pau is much more physical than the national media gives him credit for. Vlad (6â€²10), Lamar (6â€²10) and Pau (7â€²0) is one of the few front lines in the leauge that matches the height and length of the Jazz frontcourt. We used to use Kwame to guard Boozer, and I anticipate Pau being used on him this series, so Odom can guard Okur. I think those two (Pau and Odom) can match Okur and Boozer, and Kobe will push us over the top. Should be funâ€¦provided the Jazz close out
BJ (a Jazz fan):
1. No one in this league has an answer for Kobe, but the Jazz will use Brewer, AK, Harpring and Korver (who has had some surprisingly good games defensively lately) on him, changing things up and giving him different looks. It will not stop him, but they will make him work on both ends of the floor. The Jazz will try to frustrate him, which can happen, although he will not rattle anywhere near as easily as McGrady.
2. The biggest concern for the Jazz will probably be the combination of Odom & Gasol. The Jazz will likely try to get Gasol in foul trouble by posting Boozer (and sometimes Millsap or Okur) and forcing him to work defensively. Bynum being out will be HUGE in this series.
3. The Jazz have improved their outside shooting and will use Korver, AK, Okur, D-Will, etc. to space the floor offensively and open up the middle. Pick and rolls and lots of motion/screens will continue to be a staple of the offense, as will working to get high-percentage shots and not settling for jumpers.
4. Depth will be important for the Jazz. They have caused a very good Houston defense a lot of problems by playing 9 guys who can score in a variety of ways.
5. The Jazz have been starting games slow and finishing them strong. They will need to correct this to have a chance against the Lakers, who have much more firepower than Houston and are more capable of taking advantage of early miscues.
6. Utah will try to control the boards in an effort to limit second chance points for the Lakers and get as many of their own as possible.
Ryan SLC (also a Jazz fan):
Kobe will always get his points. The key is how many shots it takes for him to get them. T-Mac, while not on the level of Kobe, has been fairly limited in this series even though he has put up his usual numbers. I would assume we will approach Kobe the same way. Of course there will be a little physicality involved. This is the playoffs, and if Kobe gets frustrated and tired like T-Mac, then we have accomplished our goal. If Kobe gets angry and takes over, all we can do is hope he misses the shots. As I watched the Lakers this series, it really occurred to me how well you guys have been moving the ball. If Kobe gets too distracted and reverts back to ball hog Kobe, you guys might be playing right into our hands.
Boozer and Okur could limit Pau with their strength and size. Everyone knows Boozer can bang down low, and historically Pau has been known as a soft player. Okur, while known for his 3â€™s, is actually pretty effective when he goes inside. They key with both of them is going up strong rather than going up in an attempt to get fouled. I believe this is the number one thing that has hurt us in the Houston series. If the lay-up is not there, we need to take a 5-foot jumper. Too many times we have been needlessly and easily blocked down low.