Thursday, April 23, 2009
Lakers are prepared for a real test in Utah
The Lakers are in Salt Lake City, Utah to play the Jazz in game three of the series. The Lakers have owned the Jazz in Los Angeles but that hasn’t been the case in Utah. This is why this game becomes the most important game of the series.
The Lakers came up just short of their goal of acquiring the NBA’s best overall record but lost in that pursuit was the fact that the team earned the league’s best record on the road.
To be a champion you need to win on the road, also it has to be mentioned that the Jazz have the 5th best home record in the league. The Lakers have put their depth on display in the first two games and Kobe Bryant has worn two hats, facilitator early and closer late.
It has worked so well that it might not change however if the Lakers don’t shoot well no one will be opposed to seeing the black mamba on the attack and scoring 30+ points. The flow of the game and what the Utah defense does will determine if that will happen.
The Utah Jazz aren’t going to lie down, the Lakers need to put this team away. A win tonight will put the Jazz in dire straights and give L.A. a strangle-hold on the series.
"The series is not over. They just did what they were supposed to do - win at home,'' Utah point guard Deron Williams said. "Now we've got to do what we're supposed to do.''
A win tonight will make this a hallow claim. However, he is one of two Jazz players that have been outstanding, he has averaged 25.5 points & 13 assists, Carlos Boozer making amends for last season’s playoff showing against the Lakers, is averaging 23.5 points & 9.5 rebounds.
Expect both players to continue to play well. The task will be making sure that one of the reserves doesn’t have a hot shooting night. The Utah reserves play better at home than on the road and the entire team will playing with a high energy level. The Lakers will have to match that intensity to keep the Jazz at bay.
The Lakers need to do a better job of taking care of the ball; they’ve amassed 36 turnovers in the series. The Lakers need to control the tempo, glass, get back in transition and rotate out to three point shooters.
Establish Pau in the post and allow him to set the table for his teammates. The Lakers need to get Andrew going early as well. The Lakers face a true test on the road in Utah and could face adversity if they're not able to match the intensity of the home team and the home crowd.
The Lakers need to improve defensively and limit the Jazz to one shot per possession. This will take the crowd out of the game and play to the Lakers strength. The Lakers need to play a complete game and work to get the ball inside to their big men.
Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol have a size advantage, the Jazz don't have a shot-blocker so the Lakers need to attack the rim. The Lakers need to turn it up a notch and focus on playing hard for 60 minutes and putting together their best game.
Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times