I really wonder how much Jerry Sloan hates having to coach against Phil Jackson year after year in the NBA Playoffs. As if losing back to back NBA Finals to the Hall of Fame coach and Michael Jordan in the late 90’s wasn’t bad enough, he’s had to share a conference with Jackson’s Lakers led by Kobe Bryant for nearly ten years now.
While I’m sure there’s more respect than personal contempt as coach Sloan is the epitome of class and honor, but wouldn’t you harbor a touch of spite for Phil if you were him? Just a little?
That’s a rhetorical question by the way.
You can also tell that Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are perhaps growing sick of having to contend with so much length and that guy named Bean for a third consecutive year now. They can’t get it done on their own. While we only outscored the Jazz 54-50 in the paint, it’s evident that the lack of interior defense will be too much for them to overcome in the series.
The strategy to pound the ball inside was blatantly obvious against the Thunder, but it’s even more critical that the Lakers execute that game plan against Utah because it will be the key to keeping the series short and earning a few crucial days of rest for the next round.
For the most part, Game 1 was definitely a good win, but our flat and unimpressive play for most of the fourth quarter showed how this series has the potential to be a trap for the Lakers. I’m not talking about whether or not we will advance through the Jazz however, but more so speaking on a matter of when.
The Lakers are still highly susceptible to playing down to the competition and forfeiting too many “effort plays” as Jalen Rose said this morning on Sportscenter. Couldn’t agree more right?
Regardless, I really don’t see any justifiable reason why we should have to play more than five games other than our biggest nemesis throughout the season – complacency. But hey, that’s also how I felt about the Thunder series. I’m banking on the hope that the team actually learned a thing or two last round.