Lakers/Jazz Preview: When The Lakers Have The Ball

Kurt —  April 18, 2009

NBA: FEB 26 Suns at Lakers
The name of the game in the NBA is to create and exploit mismatches. That’s one thing the triangle offense does well, put guys in good positions and force the defense to adjust, then have counters for those moves. When the Lakers have the offense flowing — getting the ball to the mismatch and counterpunching the reaction — you see a high number of assists.

The Lakers have mismatches all over the place to exploit in this series. If they are smart, they should score plenty.

That starts inside in the paint. Mehmet Okur cannot keep Andrew Bynum off the low block or alter his shot in close, and Pau Gasol has a huge size advantage inside. We saw this some in the last regular season meeting between these two. When isolated, Boozer (especially a hobbled Boozer) was virtually helpless on Gasol. There are members of the Jazz — AK-47 — that love to come from the weak-side and block shots — Gasol and Bynum need to be aware and be ready to give up the ball.

The other big problem for the Jazz is at the two — Ronnie Brewer cannot slow Kobe Bryant. In the first two games this season against the Jazz, he averaged 38 points a game. Again, the Jazz can do things to bring help, but that leaves other players open if the Lakers share the ball.

Darius laid these two points out in his assessment:

We punish them inside with Gasol and Bynum and let Kobe create off the dribble. This will generate plenty of offense for everyone as we’ll get inside looks and open jumpers against collapsing helpers for our shooters. Kobe must attack, but I think he will do that more against the Jazz because they actually don’t have players that stay with him well when he drives (in stark contrast to a team like Boston or Houston or a defender like Posey). We saw Kobe drive (in the last game against Utah) and he’s done it against Utah for as long as I can remember…Brewer, Miles, AK, none of these guys impede his dribble enough to stop him from getting into the lane and they don’t have a shot blocker (besides AK who will either be guarding him or rotating off of a shooter or a slashing big) to bother him. In that last game Doug Collins said Boozer had SIX blocks all season! Kobe knows this and will attack accordingly. Basically, I think all we have to do is run our sets and we’ll get easy looks. Plus, like last night, we can always go to the P&R where Utah loves to overhelp on Kobe coming off the screen so that two passes later we have a wide open jumper in the corner and Kobe has a hockey assist.

The other things the Lakers can do — particularly the bench — is get easy baskets in transition. The Jazz are a disciplined team that will try to get back, but if Lamar Odom gets the rebound he should be able to push the ball up and the Lakers can get some transition baskets. The Lakers should — should — hold or extend the lead when the bench is on the floor.

Bottom line, the Lakers do not need to do much of anything different than they normally do, just run the offense, and they should be able to score enough to win.