Two of the next three games for the Lakers are the same opponent, the Utah Jazz. The Lakers and Jazz have become very accustomed to one another over the past few seasons, including two playoff match-ups in each of the past two years. The Lakers will host Utah tonight, while on Saturday the two will face off in Salt Lake City. The Lakers are looking to continue their unbeaten streak, which reached nine on Sunday night against Phoenix. Los Angeles remains undefeated since the return of Pau Gasol, and have won seven out of eight games by double digits. The Lakers hot streak is certainly remarkable, and gives the rest of the NBA plenty of reason to fear the defending champions. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can keep up the intensity and show up for every game, especially in games where they should be able to win with relative ease. While Los Angeles will certainly be the favorites against the Jazz, there is no doubt that Utah is a solid team and can give the Lakers plenty of trouble. Led by All-Star guard Deron Williams, the Jazz are a formidable opponent that the Lakers cannot overlook. Below are the keys to tonight’s game.
- Showing Up or Playing Down? Which Lakers team will show up Wednesday night in Los Angeles? The team that has won nine in a row by an average of over ten points? Or will it be the team that plays at the level of the competition and hopes to turn it on in the end? If it is the latter the Lakers may run into some trouble, as Utah is a playoff-caliber team that should not be taken lightly.
- D-Will vs. D-Fish: There is no doubt that the point guard position is the weakest on the floor for the Lakers. While Derek Fisher is a four time NBA champion, he is certainly racking up the mileage. Deron Williams is an up and coming star in the NBA, and has caused the Lakers trouble in the past. While Boozer is a big part of Utah’s offense, containing Williams will be essential for the Lakers victory hopes, so look for their defensive game plan to focus on him.
- Try for Ten: If the Lakers win tonight it will be their tenth consecutive winning streak, marking the first time the team has won ten straight since February 28th, 2008. The ironic thing about the last time the Lakers won ten consecutive games is that it was following the trade for Pau Gasol. Anybody else seeing a common denominator here?
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Tip-off: 7:30 PST
TV: FS West, NBALP
Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW home of the Los Angeles Lakers)