The Lakers eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in dramatic fashion when Pau Gasol converted the put-back heard around the world with .05 seconds remaining. It was reminiscent of Derek Fisher’s game winner in San Antonio in 2004.
The Thunder have a bright future, but for the Purple and Gold are on the road to repeat and it’s onto the next one.
Next up the Utah Jazz; who dispatched the Denver Nuggets in six games. This is a short turnaround for the defending champions, but after being provided a wake-up call in the first round, they will be ready. They know that there’s a lot of work to do.
The Lakers won the season series against the Jazz three games to one. The Lakers have ended their playoff run the last two seasons. After 14-straight defeats in Los Angeles, the Staples Center has become their house of horrors. They’re a good basketball team that plays hard, but they just don’t match up well with the Lakers.
They eliminated Denver despite playing without injured starters Mehment Okur and Andrei Kirilenko. The Jazz are led by Deron Williams, the hottest player in the post-season, and arguably the best point guard in the league. He was injured at the end of game six when the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt, but you can count on him playing.
Carlos Boozer and Paul Milsap are excellent players that provide maximum effort. Both are undersized power forwards that will have difficulty with the length of the Lakers. As evidenced in the last series, the post-season comes down to adjustments. Both teams are very familiar with each other so there shouldn’t be any surprises. After the success the Thunder had in transition, look for the Jazz to test the transition defense.
The Lakers defense was a huge factor in closing out the first round series and it will be throughout the post-season. The Lakers have to continue to establish Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work. The front-line of Bynum, Gasol and Ron Artest needs to play aggressive and constantly attack the rim. This should allow the them to control the tempo, eliminate opportunities for the Jazz to get out in transition, and as well as put the Lakers on the free throw line.
It is a must that the Lakers make their free throws, rebound, take care of the basketball, and play defense without fouling. Slowing down the duo of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer won’t be an easy task, but it must be done, as well as making sure one of the reserves don’t have a career day.
The bench stepped up and provided a huge lift in the last two games and hopefully it becomes a trend that can be counted on.
The Lakers have to be solid defending the screen and roll action plays, stop the dribble penetration, out-rebound the Jazz, limit them to one shot per possession and challenge every shot. The Lakers will need a contribution from everyone.
Our Los Angeles should win this series in five games or less. It is time to see passion on every possession.
Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Utah: ABC
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Utah: 1320 AM KFAN (David Locke, David James & Patrick Kinehan)
- Ron Artest (Left Heel Bruise/Sprained Left Thumb)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
- Andrew Bynum (Small Tear in the Meniscus of his Right Knee) Questionable
- Sasha Vujacic (Severely Sprained Left Ankle) Out
- Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back)
- Jordan Farmar (Strained Hamstring)
- D.J. Mbenga ( Eye Surgery)
- Andrei Kirilenko (Strained Left Calf) Out
- Deron Williams (Bruised Left Elbow) Game-Time Decision