Sunday, May 4, 2008

Positives From Game 1

Yes, the Jazz lost game one to the Lakers 109-98, and yes, the team that wins game one goes on to win almost 80% of NBA playoff series, but before we write the Jazz’s obituary, there were several aspects of game one that make me optimistic that the Jazz can advance to the Western Conference Finals.

1. The Jazz killed the Lakers on the boards – 58 to 41 – and pulled down an astounding 25 offensive rebounds. Rebounding is a Jazz strength and Lakers weakness, and it kept us in game one despite shooting only 37% from the field.

2. Okur played a great game, scoring 21 points and pulling down 19 rebounds. Although Williams and Boozer had sub par games, the Jazz were able to stay in striking distance because of Okur. When he is playing well, Okur spreads the floor and makes the Jazz tough to defend.

3. The Jazz were not ready for Kobe Bryant. With only a day to prepare, it was clear the Jazz had not effectively schemed for Bryant. Kobe is a much better player than McGrady and the Jazz need to adjust. With a few days to watch and analyze the game film and work out the kinks, I expect the Jazz to be better prepared for Kobe in game 2.

4. The Jazz didn’t let the Lakers bury them. The Jazz had every reason to roll over and die after the Lakers opened up a 19 point lead in the third quarter: they were tired; the calls weren’t going their way; they got some terrible bounces (Williams’s layup?); and they were struggling from the field and the free throw line. But instead of throwing in the towel, the way the Nuggets did, the Jazz took what they were given and slowly chipped away until they cut the Lakers’ lead to 3 with a couple minutes to go. Not only did this show a lot of heart, but it demonstrated that the Jazz can play with the Lakers, even when their stars are having off nights.

Of course I would have rather walked away with a victory, but game one provided plenty to be optimistic about. With a few days to rest and prepare, I predict that Boozer and Williams will return to form, the Jazz will slow Kobe down, and we will take control of the series by stealing game 2. Ultimately, I see the Jazz winning this series in six games. The signs were all there during game one, it just takes a Jazz fan to recognize them.


Pasty Gangsta said...

I agree. I think this was the Jazz's second worst performance of the playoffs so far (eclipsed only by the nightmare that was Game 5 in the Houston series). Given how we played, it's amazing we were even in this game. If we can contain Kobe (I like the idea of sticking Brewer on him and doubling every once in awhile), knock down a few more open jumpers, and quit turning the damn ball over, we're right in this series.

Orlando said...

Most of those turnovers were mindless. Be strong with the ball, Carlos!