NBA Roundtable

Playoff Previews: Los Angeles vs Utah

In 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Main Story — Utah’s Lack Of Defense

Lakers Big Men vs Jazz’ Big Men

Andrew Bynum + Pau Gasol + Lamar Odom vs Carlos Boozer + Paul Millsap

This is real simple — Utah’s big men cannot defend the Lakers big men

  • Neither Boozer or Millsap have the height, the post defense or overall defensive chops to check Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum in the post.
  • Carlos Boozer cannot defend Lamar Odom away from the rim. He does not have the quickness required to stay in front of Odom’s drives. Millsap can do a solid job though.

This advantage gives the Lakers a constant creative point in their offense, a starting point, that forces Utah’s defense into a help position which in turn creates time, space and shot attempts for the Lakers perimeter players.

In other words, the Lakers offense is going to cause huge problems for Utah’s defense because they cannot defend their secondary threats … which means Kobe Bryant will have a huge amount of help offensively.

One other issue with Utah’s defense, in comparison to Oklahoma’s defense, is that their perimeter players do not have great size or defensive ability. The consequence is Utah’s big men will not receive that scrambling effective team defense that at times bothered the Lakers big men severely. They will get some help, Utah’s perimeter defense is quicker and more active than it has been in the past, but to nowhere near the degree Oklahoma was able to provide it.

On the other end of the floor, Boozer and Millsap will provide good play but their performances have been more inconsistent than normal against the Lakers bigs. Their short stature has made it difficult for them to get clean looks around the rim against LA’s length and shot blocking. I would expect that to continue.

Kobe Bryant

  • Utah has a solid wing defender (Matthews) + two poor but serviceable defenders (CJ Miles and Kyle Korver).
  • They also have poor team defense from their big men. So if their perimeter players get beat, there is insufficient help on the back-line.

Kobe Bryant has a huge matchup advantage against Utah’s wings. He will be able to score at will + get into the paint at will to either get to the foul line or to create easy hoops for his big men or spot up jump shots for his shooters.

Another player who can collapse Utah’s mediocre defense.

Utah Has Shooters

Deron Williams + Wes Matthews + CJ Miles/Kyle Korver

One major difference for Utah in this year’s matchup versus the two previous seasons is their perimeter shooting. No longer can the Lakers just collapse in the paint and dare Ronnie Brewer + Andrei Kirilenko to beat them from distance …

This will allow the Jazz’ offense to work extremely well in this series.

Unfortunately, their defense relative to LA’s offense figures to be worse than their offense vs LA’s defense … so they are still likely to lose.

Deron Williams

Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA and the Lakers have massive problems against opposing point guards. Derek Fisher is a weak one-on-one defender and Jordan Farmar has historically struggled against Williams.

Which means one or two players will need to step up and take the assignment as much as possible

  • Shannon Brown — good size + good defensive ability but streaky shooting and very little passing/playmaking
  • Kobe Bryant — worries over foul trouble if guarding Deron

Deron Williams is going to have a huge series against LA.

Verdict

The Lakers should eliminate Utah from the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

They have excellent matchups with Kobe Bryant + their big men so their offense should be very effective. On the other end of the floor, Utah’s new found shooting ability + excellent matchup at the point + quality big men will make their life extremely difficult … but LA’s better balance of offense and defense should see them through.

I think the Lakers will need six games to eliminate Utah.

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  1. Kirilenko Update

    Andrei Kirilenko hopes to return in time for game three

    Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko says he hopes to return to the Jazz by Game 3 of their second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Kirilenko sat out Utah’s first-round win over Denver and missed most of the last month of the regular season with a strained left calf.

    Kirilenko said Saturday that his calf has been feeling better and Game 2 on Tuesday in Los Angeles is a slight possibility, but he says Game 3 next Saturday in Utah is the target for his return

    Bynum Injury

    Sports Illustrated reports

    Lakers center Andrew Bynum has a small tear in the meniscus in his right knee, leaving him questionable for Los Angeles’ second-round playoff opener against the Utah Jazz.

    Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bynum might try to play through the pain in Sunday’s opener at Staples Center.

    Bynum hyperextended his knee in the first half of the Lakers’ series-clinching win over Oklahoma City on Friday night, but played the second half wearing a brace. An MRI exam on Saturday revealed the tiny tear, which apparently was aggravated by his injury.

    That is worrying …

    Another report

    The 22-year-old center is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Utah because of a small tear in some cartilage in his right knee.

    Bynum had been playing pain-free with a smaller tear in the area that worsened slightly when he sustained a hyper-extended knee Friday against Oklahoma City. He might need surgery to repair it after the season.

    Too early to say how serious this situation is for LA’s playoff run

    Bynum Talking About Injury

  2. Kirilenko’s Return

    Phil Jackson on the return of Andrei Kirilenko

    “He’s an effective defender, maybe one of the most unique defenders in the league,” Jackson said. “He can do many things — block from behind, he chases guys down on breaks — he’s very good. Kobe’s had opportunities against him when he’s done well, but he’s going to have to measure it. He’s going to have to see what he can get in the process.”

    Bryant said it would be “interesting” to have Kirilenko on him, almost in a scoffing way. But he did have some compliments for the nine-year veteran.

    “He’s a great passer, he’s great around the ball, you have to watch him coming from the weak side blocking shots,” Bryant said. “He’s extremely versatile, so it helps their offense and defense tremendously.”

    Kobe Bryant has been very successful against Kirilenko in the past but his declining athleticism has left him more vulnerable than ever to taller longer defensive players which fits the description of Kirilenko perfectly.

    Utah may just have a top man-to-man defender for Kobe Bryant at long last … unfortunately, they still will not have enough interior + post defense or help defense from the bigs against Kobe.

    So the Lakers offense should still work very well + Kirilenko’s spotty jumper will likely hold back their offense some and allow LA to clog the paint even more defensively.

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