Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  January 2, 2009

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5

Records: Lakers 25-5 (1st in the West) Jazz 19-14 (9th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (3rd in league) Jazz 108.0 (12th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.5 (4th in league) Jazz 104.5 (9th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Jazz Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Milsap (maybe), Mehmet Okur

Lakers notes: Interesting Derek Fisher stats courtesy Mike Trudell over at the official Lakers Blog:

Pre Farmar Injury:
28.0 minutes; 10.5 points; 3.3 assists; 2.5 rebounds; 0.9 turnovers; 41.3% FGs

Post Farmar Injury:
36.2 minutes; 14.8 points; 4.0 assists; 2.8 rebounds; 1.0 turnovers; 49% FGs

Sure the minutes have gone up, but notice that the shooting percentage has as well, and he is not turning the ball over much more in those minutes. Basically, he is playing his best ball of the season.

If you want to look back at the year that was (by player), check out LA Ball Talk.

Celtics Considering Marbury? Rather than my thoughts, here are the thoughts of Dex 40 from the comments:

From the article linked here, “Marbury easily ranks as the most accomplished low-cost veteran that the Celtics can add to their bench in-season. Boston also knows it has the option to simply release Marbury without significant salary-cap consequences if he fails to click as a backup or proves unwilling to accept a secondary role.”

This is all true. Marbury is an accomplished low-cost veteran like Telly Savalas in The Dirty Dozen, whose only drawback is that he’s insane and has a tendency to fire his gun randomly in the air right at the moment when the slightest noise will compromise the mission. The slightest distraction may jeopardize everything, but what the heck, Telly doesn’t cost much and he’s been in a lot of wars.

It’s a relief to know that the Celtics won’t suffer significant salary-cap consequences if Marbury wreaks havoc on team chemistry and morale for a month or so. They can just release him!

Easy as Easy Cheese.

The Jazz Coming In: Welcome to the Western Conference, where the Jazz are on a 47 win pace but would miss the playoffs if they started today.

The Jazz have just not been able to get healthy. Tonight they will be without Carlos Boozer, who is in the unfortunate position of waiting for the swelling to go down in his knee so they can operate. Since he went down, the Jazz are 11-10, they miss what he brings in the paint.

Paul Millsap and Jerrod Collins may be back tonight, but both are coming off injury layoffs.

The Jazz still have Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the game. The book on him lately has been to back off, make him beat you with a jumper but don’t let him get in the paint (the Lakers pack it in a lot anyway, so this should fit right in). The reason is his shooting is off, he shot 54.4% eFG% last year and just 47.8% this season, From three he dropped from a 39% shooting to a 32% shooting.

Just in time for the Lakers game, Williams may be breaking out of it., The 76ers followed the pack it in book recently and Williams went 11-18 from the floor, 4 of 6 from three and had 27 points as the Jazz cruised. If he is hot the Lakers need to adjust and get out on him.

A few other Jazz worth watching. The always hot and cold Andrei Kirilenko has been more hot than cold lately, and the team is a +13 per 48 when he is on the court. Mehmet Okur has picked up the scoring load with Boozer down, averaging 20 a game in the last 10, but he is not doing it efficiently. Okur is shooting 45.4% (eFG%) as well as just 31% from three in his last 10 games.

One guy to watch off the bench is rookie Kosta Koufos, who is getting just 15 minutes or so a game but has looked good the couple times I have caught a Jazz game, particularly on offense where he is very polished. Check out what ESPN’s David Thorpe said about him:

Want to get an idea of how diversified Koufos’ offensive game is? Here’s how he scored his buckets in the Jazz’s big win over Dallas: Offensive-rebound putback, layup off a dive in low-high action, step-through off a loose ball, race to the rim from the left-hand side, left-hand dribble and right-hand layup over Erick Dampier, rim-to-rim sprint and dunk, pick-and-roll left-hand finish, dive-to-the-rim dunk in low-high action, right-hand hook (and 1!) off a pick-and-roll.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers need to have the offense working tonight — the Jazz struggle to keep up with teams that can score a lot. The Lakers can score a lot, when they run the offense and are focused.

With Boozer out and Milsap just back from an injury, the Lakers should try to take advantage inside. AK-47 will help Utah there, but as Reed pointed out in his review post of a couple days ago the Lakers just have advantages inside against everyone and they need to exploit that more. If AK-47 is helping out inside, Luke and Ariza need to make him pay with points, Radmanovic can help here as well.

The Jazz are a team that protects the paint on defense — they pack it in. The Lakers need to hit some outside shots to loosen that up. Sasha could have a good night, but basically someone from the Lakers will have to be hot from outside. That Kobe fellow can do that as well.

On defense, you have to make Deron Williams a shooter, not a passer. Yes, he can shoot and he hurt the 76ers that way a few nights back, but like Nash and CP3 you don’t want Williams with 15 points and 12 assists, you’d rather make him score, and do it with the jumper. That will put a lot of pressure on Fisher tonight, who has to step up, as well as Bynum and Gasol in the paint to take away layups but recover to their man as well. Also, watch the Jazz try to post Williams on Fisher, they did that in the playoffs in hopes of getting fouls and getting Farmar on the floor (Williams destroyed Farmar). Fish has to be smart and get help.

Also, the Lakers need to be ready to bang, and they need to hit their free throws. Utah just wears on teams physically, the hold and push, frustrate and foul. The Lakers answered that just fine in the playoffs, they have to do it again tonight.

Where you can watch: Fox Sports in LA with a 7:30 tip off. Nationally, League Pass and thee other usual suspects.