This will be a big test for both of these teams as they both have their eyes on the NBA Championship. Here’s a close look at the matchups in this series:
POINT GUARD: Derek Fisher is a decent player but he doesn’t match up too well with Deron Williams of the Jazz. Fisher started all 4 games against the Nuggets and he averaged 32.3 minutes, 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He did hit 6 of 12 three pointers (50%) as he is a good shooter when left open.
Deron Williams is one of the best point guards in the NBA and he will likely run Derek Fisher right out of the building. Williams started all 6 games against the Rockets in the first round and he averaged 42.0 minutes, 20.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. Williams shot 53% from the floor and 59.1% from three point range in the first round. The fans of Utah will likely give Fisher a warm welcome when his name is announced in there arena, but Williams is going to make him look bad.
EDGE: HUGE FOR THE JAZZ
SHOOTING GUARD: Kobe Bryant won the MVP Award in the NBA this season and he played even better in the first round of the playoffs against the Nuggets. Bryant started all 4 games against the Nuggets in the first round and he averaged 39.3 minutes, 33.5 points, 5.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocked shots per game. The Jazz won’t be able to stop Kobe in this series.
2nd year man Ronnie Brewer will battle Kobe for about half of the game. He started all 6 games against the Rockets and he averaged 9.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steal per game. Brewer had issues defending Tracy McGrady and Kobe’s a similar player in style to T-Mac while being a lot better.
EDGE: HUGE FOR THE LAKERS
SMALL FORWARD: Vladimir Radmanovic will start for the Lakers and he will split time with the suddenly hot shooting Luke Walton. Radmanovic started all 4 games against the Nuggets and he averaged 24.3 minutes, 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. But, he only shot 31.6% from the floor and he needs to do better than that if the Lakers are to beat the Jazz.
Andrei Kirilenko has rebounded this season to play well for the Jazz on defense. He started all 6 games against the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs and he averaged 32.3 minutes, 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocked shots.
EDGE: SMALL FOR JAZZ
POWER FORWARD: This should be a fun matchup to watch as Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer are both really solid basketball players. Lamar Odom started all 4 games against the Nuggets and he averaged 35.3 minutes, 11.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He will likely keep Boozer busy as he is a solid outside shooter and a good passer.
Carlos Boozer is the typical slug it out power forward. He started all 6 games against the Rockets in the first round and he averaged 36.5 minutes, 16.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
EDGE: SMALL FOR THE JAZZ
CENTER: Pau Gasol was the key piece that was missing for the Lakers the last couple of seasons. He started 4 games against the Nuggets and he averaged 40.0 minutes, 22.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.8 blocked shots per game. Gasol also shot 58.2% from the floor against the Nuggets. Gasol is really a power forward playing center and that causes a lot of matchup problems for the opposition.
Mehmet Okur has really been a solid basketball player since coming over from the Pistons a few seasons ago. He is a solid rebounder and he’s also one of the best outside shooting centers in the NBA which causes matchup problems for teams. Okur started all 6 games against the Rockets and he averaged 38.0 minutes, 13.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
BENCH: The Lakers didn’t play a lot of players off the bench in the first round of the playoffs but the ones that played did well. Luke Walton was awesome off the bench against the Nuggets in the first round. He played in all 4 games off the bench and he averaged 25.0 minutes, 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Walton shot 71% from the floor against the Nuggets and he hit 4 of 5 three point shots. Sasha Vujacic is also a very solid shooter off the bench as he hit 8 of 16 (50%) shots from three point range. In the four games against the Nuggets, Vujacic averaged 18.8 minutes, 7.8 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. Jordan Farmar splits time with Derek Fisher at the point guard position and he will be kept busy helping to defend Deron Williams. Farmer played in all 4 games against the Nuggets and he averaged 16.5 minutes, 6.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Ronny Turiaf is one of the top reserves among the big men for the Lakers but he only played in 2 games against the Nuggets. He averaged 3.5 minutes, 1.0 point and 2.5 rebounds per game against the Nuggets.
The Jazz have a deep and talented bench. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver was brought in from Philly at mid-season and he provided firepower off the bench. Korver played in all 6 games against the Rockets and he averaged 20.7 minutes, 5.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 1.0 blocked shot per game. Matt Harpring is the guy who dives for balls and always hustles for the Jazz. It often rubs off on his teammates when he is on the floor. He played in all 6 games against the Rockets and he averaged 18.0 minutes, 5.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.0 steal per game. Paul Millsap is one of the best young power forwards in the NBA who doesn’t have a starting job. He played in all 6 games against the Rockets and he averaged 17.5 minutes, 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Ronnie Price is the backup point guard and he doesn’t get much work. He did play in all 6 games for the Jazz against the Rockets but he only averaged 6.0 minutes, 3.8 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game.
PREDICTION: THE LAKERS WILL WIN THIS SERIES IN 6 GAMES.