Second-Round Showdown: Game 1

MAY 2| SUN |ROUND 2, GAME 1| (5) Jazz vs. (1) Lakers : Series tied 0-0

The Lakers closed out the first round in epic fashion against the Thunder. Now they host the all-too-familiar Utah Jazz

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Both teams were able to advance on Friday in a 6-game series respectively. The luxury for Utah was playing Game 6 at home. So the rest advantage definitely favors Utah.

But the Lakers are the number 1 seed. So they’ll host yet another playoff matchup against the Jazz.

L.A. took the season series, 3-1. All three of the wins were by double figures.

But this is a relentless Jazz team, another scrappy challenge for the Lakers to overcome.

Thankfully this time the defending champs’ antennas are up even earlier than last year due to the play of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There is a bump however. With the recent news of a slight meniscus tear in Andrew Bynum’s knee, 22-year old center’s time on the floor might be limited.

The Lakers will use Lamar Odom if the issue is more serious than anticipated.

Utah has issues of their own, with Deron Williams being a game-time decision due to a bruised elbow suffered on a closing play in Friday’s 112-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

L.A. will need to be just as attentive with the Jazz as they were with the Thunder in Games 5 & 6.

Deron Williams will be their biggest concern as he has been electric in this year’s postseason averaging about 24 points and 10 assists. Also over 50 percent from the 3-point arc.

The Lakers have been great defensively. Allowing only one 100-point game against the Thunder, a high-scoring team.

The advantage will be in the frontcourt, as always.

And if the bench can produce the way they did in Game 6 (30 points) they’ll be in great shape.

Here are the keys for the game.

KEYS FOR THE GAME:

Stopping Williams

Deron Williams has frankly been considered the best point guard in the league right now. He’s too fast for Derek Fisher to take head on. The Lakers may put Bryant on him if needed.

Twin Tower Dominance

Even if Bynum isn’t at full strength, his length will be too much for the Jazz to handle. Pau Gasol will also be able to match with Carlos Boozer, whom he’s had past success against on both offense and defense.

Home Cooking

L.A. has had home-court advantage against the Jazz in most of their postseason matchups. The Lakers have been successful at home and will look to continue the trend today.

Spreading the Wealth

The Lakers had an efficient Game 5 and had multiple players score in double figures. They should look to continue that effort to force the Thunder to pick there poison against the versatile L.A. team.

Lamar Odom & Co.

Odom and the bench don’t need to score a ton of points to be productive. But that can go a long way with the Jazz reserve unit holding Paul Milsap, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie PriceWith the scoring potential they possess, the Lakers’ bench will have to be attentive on both ends of the floor.

Limiting D-Will-Boozer Connection.

Williams thrives off getting guys in transition and creating shots for his teammates. L.A. will have to keep their attention on who is prefering to. In many cases, the duo of him and Boozer will be the default. Gasol and Odom usually do a good job defensively on Boozer, so its to be expected that they’ll continue this.

PROJECTED STARTERS:

LAKERS:
(C) A. Bynum
(PF) P. Gasol
(SF) R. Artest
(SG) K. Bryant
(PG) D. Fisher

X-Factor: Lamar Odom and bench play. Frontcourt.

JAZZ:
(C) K. Fesenko
(PF) C. Boozer
(SF) C. Miles
(SG) W. Matthews
(PG) D. Williams

X-Factor: Paul Milsap & Wesley Matthews.

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