NBA Roundtable

Kirilenko Out For Denver Series

In 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

The Desert News reports

Usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko is out, for the series.

Kirilenko actually reinjured his strained left calf — yet again — on Thursday, during what team spokesman Jonathan Rinehart called “a light workout.”

He missed 15 of the Jazz’s final 17 regular-season games because of the calf — an area of the lower leg that actually is a collection of muscles — and, according to Rinehart, will “miss the next two weeks as we address other treatments.”

The Jazz withheld news of the Kirilenko incident for a full day, prompting Sloan to say, “People think we’re trying to hide something with these guys when they get hurt, but the bottom line is when they get hurt, we still have to do our job; they have to take care of themselves and get ready to play.”

Carlos Boozer has some injury concerns, as does Memo Okur, but both are planning on playing

Starting power forward Carlos Boozer may or may not play in Game 1, his earlier declaration notwithstanding. And starting center Mehmet Okur says he’ll play, though not nearly at full strength.

Boozer, who didn’t join other Jazz players in meeting with media members prior to practice Friday, said on Wednesday night that he’s “going to play this weekend, no matter what.”

The Jazz, however, on Friday were calling their leading scorer and rebounder a “game-time decision” for tonight.

That is a shame. Kirilenko is a big loss for Utah. They needed his talent on the wing and his defense against Carmelo Anthony. It’ll be struggle for Utah without him.

Utah vs Denver

Utah Jazz

  • Starting five — Deron + Matthews + Miles + Boozer + Okur
  • Rotation — Price + Korver + Millsap
  • Others — Fesenko + Koufos

Denver Nuggets

  • Starting five — Billups + Afflalo + Melo + Kenyon + Nene
  • Rotation — Lawson + Smith + Andersen
  • Others — Carter + Graham + Balkman + Petro

Utah’s Wing Rotation

Utah’s three man wing rotation of Wes Matthews, CJ Miles and Kyle Korver is the weakest of any playoff team and they are going to have to contend with a talented Nuggets group led by Carmelo Anthony.

The Jazz have nobody who can matchup defensively against Anthony effectively. Wes Matthews is a tough physical defender but he is giving up too much size to deny Melo consistently (6-5 + 220lbs vs 6-8 + 240lbs). Both CJ Miles and Kyle Korver face similar problems, a physical disadvantage in size and weight, as well as being below average man-to-man defenders.

So with no effective defensive option to throw at Carmelo Anthony + given Utah’s poor interior team defense … one should expect Carmelo Anthony to go off in this series. He’ll be able to get easy looks at the rim whenever he wants and will be able to get to the free throw line at will. Anthony is capable of averaging 30+ points per game for the series and is a good bet for the odd 40 point performance.

Jerry Sloan will try playing Paul Millsap against Anthony. He’ll use Millsap’s physical strength to fight Anthony off the post but Melo will be able to face him up and take him off the bounce. Still, a clear matchup advantage and easy scoring opportunity for Carmelo Anthony.

Match up Notes

  1. Utah will have a slight advantage at the point guard spot
  2. Denver will have a very large advantage on the wing and that should be the difference in the series
  3. Assuming Kenyon Martin is healthy and able to play at a high level, the Nuggets big men should be able to provide superior team defense and help their side play superior overall defense than the Jazz are capable of playing.
  4. Utah has a large advantage on the backboards. They were the sixth best rebounding team in the NBA this season with a rebounding differential of +3.0 while the Nuggets finished towards the bottom third with a negative differential of -0.9.
  5. Denver takes better care of the basketball and does a comparable job of forcing turnovers. That will help them create some extra possessions but Utah’s large rebounding advantage will still allow them to create more possessions than Denver.
  6. Denver is the best team in the league at getting to the free throw line and Utah is one of the most frequent fouling teams. Add the good matchup for Carmelo Anthony into the equation and Denver should live at the free throw line this series.
  7. Denver are also the superior team in transition both offensively + defensively. Their main advantage is their transition defense. This combined with their free throw advantage + Carmelo Anthony matchup should generate a large number of easy scoring opportunities.

Denver should win this series. They are the more talented team and the Jazz look incapable of containing Carmelo Anthony without Andrei Kirilenko in the lineup. I’m thinking Denver in 6.

It’s a shame that Utah’s playoff hopes are being torn apart by an untimely injury.

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