The Los Angeles Lakers look to rebound from a poorly-played loss to the Toronto Raptors when they take on the Utah Jazz in a potential playoff preview.
Although so much can change between now and the NBA Playoffs beginning, the Jazz currently hold the Western Conference’s No. 5 seed. With L.A. on the verge of clinching the top seed in the conference, a Jazz-Lakers series could come in the second round.
Because of this, and for seeding purposes, both teams should be giving their all in this matchup. If that’s the case, the Lakers should have the advantage over a Jazz team that they’ve simply outworked and outplayed in the 2019-20 season.
The Lakers have a 2-0 advantage on the Jazz in the season series, and neither game was particularly close. After what happened against the Raptors, the Lakers need a big performance in a very winnable game.
“Other than everything?” head coach Frank Vogel responded when asked what he would like to see the team improve on. “Coaches always want to clean up everything. I think we’re doing some really good things defensively. I’d say the top things we want to work on is our screening and spacing offensively, and we’ve got to continue to be patient with our shooters.
“I thought we played a really good offensive game the other day with the exception of finishing plays. We missed layups at the rim and open threes on the backside, which were costly. The spacing and screening improvements hopefully will cut down on some of our turnovers as well.”
While a 15-point loss certainly looks bad, and the game itself was far from pretty, the biggest issue was hitting shots. The Lakers shot an abysmal 35.4% from the field and — even worse — 25% from three. Hitting jump shots and getting easy looks at the rim will be essential against the Jazz.
Another layer of intrigue will be the potential matchup between two Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. While they won’t start the game facing one another, they will be placed together down low or on the perimeter at some point during the 48 minutes.
Davis will have his chance to prove that versatility on both ends of the floor is simply more valuable than being just a stifling rim protector.
A win against the Jazz would not only clinch the No. 1 seed, it would also put the Lakers right back on track and give them confidence as they barrel towards the postseason.
Lakers (50-15) vs. Jazz (42-24)
6:00 P.M. PT, Aug. 3, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: ESPN L.A. 710
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Dion Waiters, Markieff Morris
Projected Jazz Starting Lineup:
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Joe Ingles
PF: Royce O’Neale
C: Rudy Gobert
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang, Emmanuel Mudiay, Tony Bradley
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