03 May 2008

Jazz/Lakers (and other matchups)


Let's cut to the chase.

The Utah/Los Angeles series was determined the day Jerry West sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers for virtually nothing.

That move was a travesty, and created the closest thing to an unfair advantage as you'll see in a professional sports league with a salary cap.

And while I'm complaining, I'm not happy about the NBA scheduling Game 1 of the series less than 48 hours after they finished off the Rockets. Of course, this could be an advantage for Utah, for three reasons:

1. The Jazz are hot off a dominating win. The Lakers haven't played in over a week. Rust?

2. The Jazz just finished a tough, defensively-minded fight against the Rockets. Going against the Lakers, a rather poor defensive team, will feel like heaven offensively. It's like playing while wearing a weight jacket for two weeks and then taking it off.

3. The Lakers played against a horrible defensive team in Round 1. For them, the second round will be like putting on the weight jacket.

Enough caveats. Here's the breakdown.

The Lakers have no answer for Deron. Fisher can't stop him, and Farmar won't do much defensively, either.

The Jazz have no answer for Kobe, but honestly, who does? Sure, Utah will run a combination of Andrei, Brewer, and maybe even Korver at him, but in the end, Kobe's getting his points and there's nothing you can do to shut him down.

Boozer and Okur can't stop Gasol, but Gasol can't stop them, either. Odom is a talent, but something of a headcase. It's tough to know what he'll do in this series.

In my opinion, the key to beating Kobe's Lakers, as it has always been since Shaq left, is to make him feel like he needs to win the game all by himself. If Kobe goes into hero mode and stops passing the ball, his teammates will start standing around. And when that happens, the Lakers lose.

Unless Kobe is on fire. Because if he is, he's capable of winning the game all by himself.

But more often than not, when he tries taking over in the second quarter, it's a good sign for the opposing team.

It's a risk, but I think it might be a good idea for the Jazz to focus on stopping the rest of the Lakers and letting Kobe do his thing. However, with the Spaniard around, that might backfire into a 42-point, 24 rebound performance from Gasol.

It's tough. Lakers in six.

Of course, if Utah wins Game 1 for the reasons I stated earlier, I'm reserving the right to change my mind.


Detroit/Orlando

The Pistons are capable of winning this series pretty handily. The only question is if they'll motivate themselves enough to do it. If they drop a couple early games, like they did to the Sixers, they'll find themselves watching Orlando go to the Conference Finals.

The thing is, Orlando matches up pretty well against them. Sure, Billups has the edge over Jameer Nelson, but Turkoglu and Lewis are better than Hamilton and Prince, in my opinion. And Jason Maxiell might play center pretty well, but he's not even close to an answer for Dwight Howard.

Rasheed's going to be the key here. Keith Bogans can't begin to defend him, and if Wallace is motivated enough, he could do a lot of damage.

But overmatched at certain positions or not, the Pistons will run you off screens all day and team-ball you to death. It's how they beat the Lakers in 2004.

If Orlando wins this one, consider it Howard's official "welcome to the big time" moment.

I'm calling it Orlando in seven.

Spurs/Hornets

The Spurs are on their typical late-season playoff mission to destroy every team in their path to another NBA championship.

The Hornets are young upstarts with no playoff experience before three weeks ago.

I picked against both of them in the first round.

So keeping in mind that I don't know anything, here's how I see this series going:

Chris Paul and Tony Parker will make each other look silly on defense. Peja will have a difficult time getting his wide-open looks. Tyson Chandler will get far fewer easy alley-oop dunks than he did against Dallas.

Duncan will have a more difficult time against Chandler and West than he did against Amare and Shaq. Ginobili will do his thing and have some great games and some not-so-great games.

In the end, the Spurs will steamroll another talented team on their way to their second straight Western Conference Finals.

Spurs in five.

5 comments:

Filbert Karo said...

Hey, Gasol's almost averaging 3 blocks a game. He is an underrated defender.

The Jazz won't be that great on defense, their only good defenders are Brewer and Williams. Kirilenko lost it.

Deron was a LeBron last round. He did most of the work for his team. But if he does it against the Lakers, it'll kill the Jazz afterwards. It's like when Kobe tries to be his own team, like you said.

But Boozer and Okur are horrible at defending, so it will be hard to stop Gasol and {maybe} Andrew Bynum.

superman jock said...

Okur did a great job on Yao last year. And I figured out how to find out the scores to games on mom's phone.

The Village of Randomity said...

Hmm. Hornets win game 1. How does that fit into your predictions?

Brandon said...

Bad.

I told you, I don't know anything.

But I'm fairly sure the Spurs will make adjustments for Game 2.

Filbert Karo said...

Hope not. Spurs better lose the series.