This week's 710 ESPN.com Podkast, and Game 3 thoughts
On the docket for this week's 710 ESPN.com Lakers poddy: Thoughts on LA's trip to Utah, what the Lakers need to improve on against the Jazz and down the road, Jordan Farmar's future (or, potentially, lack thereof) in purple and gold, and a little bit on Andrew Bynum's social life. That, and talk of the Wonder Twins.
Click on it. It's good for you, and is environmentally friendly. Just like 710's postgame show, which we'll be on for an hour following the game.
Now on to Game 3. Some thoughts:
- If you see the scruffy bearded man at the right of the page, please pass him the ball. Pau Gasol was 7-11 in Game 1, 9-11 in Game 2 (that's a tidy 73%), and is a mismatch for any player the Jazz can put up against him. Carlos Boozer? Paul Millsap? Jarron Collins? Doesn't matter. But, as has been the case for much of the year, after pounding teams down low early, the Lakers tend to get away from the post as games go on. Not tonight. Given Utah's strength on their home court, ball control and offensive efficiency will be huge. One phenomenal way to accomplish that is to make sure the guy making nearly three of every four shots he takes gets a few more touches.
- With that in mind, Gasol needs to be more careful with the ball. Five TOs in Game 2? Way too many. Gasol needs to stand up to the pressure he'll get from the Jazz and make decisive choices either with his shot or the pass.
- Utah is a far better team at home (+9.5 point differential) than they are a bad team on the road (-4.2). They shoot at a higher percentage, turn the ball over less, score more, rack up more assists, and keep the opposition off the scoreboard at a far better rate. That means the Lakers have to clean up the TOs (17 in Game 1, 21 in Game 2), or the Jazz will likely get enough free points to take Game 3.
- Kobe Bryant has displayed some great instincts in game management over the first two installments of this series. He's distributing well (17 assists) and scoring efficiently (50% shooting). Tonight, I figure he'll finally crack the 20 shot barrier, but don't expect him to do anything to threaten the offensive equilibrium that has served LA so well thus far. After all, with the team shooting about 58% in the series, nothing on that end of the floor is broken or needs fixing. But I expect Kobe to come out with some aggression, both to help quiet the Utah crowd and to remind the Jazz that, if need be, he's around to take over the game.
- The insertion of Andrei Kirilenko into the starting lineup for the Jazz might help make Trevor Ariza's life a little tougher offensively, making it difficult to equal the incredible efficiency of his first two games. (Though is it fair to expect the guy to shoot 81% the rest of the way?) On the other hand, it could make LA's job easier defensively. With AK47 in the lineup, Utah has no viable shooting threats beyond Deron Williams. Expect LA to pack it in and try to cut off D-Will's lanes off penetration, making it tougher to get those easy layups underneath. If the Jazz hit shots early? Fine. Let 'em keep trying. I'm willing to bet the Utah can't score enough to beat the Lakers if they're forced into a jumper-centric offense.
See everyone at the Live Blog. 7:30 tip, PST.