I want to touch upon a throw-away line from a recent Kobe radio interview (by Petro and Money on 570).
Kobe noted that he grew up in Italy, plus you have the international influence of Pau Gasol, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujaic, even Ronny Turiaf (despite going to Gonzaga). He then said all of them grew up playing soccer.
I’m far from a soccer expert, but what are the key parts to a successful attack in soccer — spacing the pitch, moving without the ball and quick touches.
When the Lakers are playing the triangle offense well, all three of those things are on display. And, as was noted before in this great Basketball Prospectus article, when the Lakers are running the triangle and moving off the ball, they score a lot more.
I just thought that connection was an interesting one. Some other thoughts about tonight’s big game six:
• Expect Utah to play its best game, to play with an increased level of desperation and desire. The Lakers need to match that. If you thought after a tough game five loss Utah might be depressed and fold, I have to ask — have you watched the Jazz at all this series?
• The only way to slow D-Will on the pick-and-roll is to mix up the coverages, and the Lakers did a better job of that last game. When they trapped him on the P&R it was particularly effective, and the Lakers may want to save that look for some key possessions.
• Note to Jazz fans complaining about the game five officiating: That’s not why you lost. The Jazz turned the ball over on 20.4% of your possessions. That is why you lost.
Looking ahead to tonight, if the Lakers can again keep up the more intense on-ball pressure from game five, pick their spots jumping the passing lanes, play solid defense that forces Utah into more jumpers — which in turn often pushes them to make more dangerous passes trying to get good shots — they can force a high percentage of turnovers again and get a win on the road.
• Speaking of turnovers, one constant in this series is that the team that has done more running, got more points in transition or early, unscripted offense, has been the winner. The Lakers need to look to push the ball (but not settle for the three in transition) and they need to have good transition defense to stop the Jazz from getting easy buckets.
For a great breakdown of tonight’s game, check out David Thorpe at ESPN.com.
It would be nice have a few days off to rest while the Spurs and Hornets go one more round, but tonight will be the toughest game to win of the series. It means the Lakers will have to play their best game yet to get a win.