Jazz Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Raja Bell
SF: Andrei Kirilenko
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Jefferson
Key Reserves: C.J. Miles, Earl Watson
Injuries: Mehmet Okur
After spending Thanksgiving at home with their loved ones, the Lakers go on the road and face a very tough Jazz team.
Frontcourt: The Jazz possess two talented men who can rival the Lakers down low.The majority of the Jazz scoring comes from Millsap and Jefferson who are beasts in the paint. Combined they are averaging 36.3 points on 52.5% FG, 17.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Surprisingly, Kirilenko has had an injury free season thus far and his impact has been felt all over the court (1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks, 0.9 treys).
Backcourt: Deron Williams is one of the premier point guards in the NBA. His size and strength has given the Lakers’ guards fits in the past. This season Deron has been getting to the free-throw line more often, but his FG% has fallen to 43%. Net-net, he is scoring more than ever this season, posting career highs of 20.9 points per game. In the post season, Bell spurned Kobe and the Lakers and opted to take a larger contract with the Jazz. Subsequently, Shannon Brown resigned with the Lakeshow. Looks like that was a serendipitous sequence of events. Brown has been playing out of his mind (50.9 3PT%, 52 FG%) as he guns for the sixth man of the year award. On the other hand, Bell is shooting only 29.4% from three point land and 39.2% overall – OUCH. Furthermore, Brown is averaging 11.8 pts and 1.9 treys in 19 minutes per contest while Bell is averaging 7.7 pts and 0.7 treys in 29 minutes of play – DOUBLE OUCH.
Keys to Laker Victory:
The big man match-up will be intriguing – Gasol and Odom pitted against Jefferson and Millsap. Whichever duo can can stay out of foul trouble and control the boards will come out on top. Kirilenko and Bell will probably both get a shot at guarding Kobe in attempts to slow him down. Nobody in the league can shut down the best player in the league, so expect Kobe to impose his will on the Jazz defenders.
The Jazz are thin with only six players who average more than 20 minutes per game. For the Lakers, the Killer B’s have proven to be one of the best second units in the NBA. Barnes, Brown, and Blake will be the difference in this game.
Laker Injuries: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff