Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick

Utah Jazz (48-33) at L.A. Lakers (64-17) 10:30 PM ET Tuesday April 14, 2009 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Utah Jazz head to La La Land to play the L.A. Lakers. The Jazz are currently in the 8th position in the Western Conference and trail the 7th place Dallas Mavericks by one game. Unless the Jazz can pass the Mavs in the West it looks as if tonight’s match up will be a preview of the first round playoff series in the West.

The Lakers have already bagged the 1st seed in the West, so tonight’s game may be interesting to see if their starters log a lot of minutes. The Lakers would probably rather play the Mavs in the first round, as the Jazz have given them trouble in the past. The Lakers have split the season series with the Jazz (1-1) and against the Mavs the Lakers swept them (3-0).

Will the Lakers play all out or try to give the Jazz the win in order to give them a better chance to play the Mavs in the first round? Seems unlikely that the Lakers would do that, but they may play many bench players tonight and rest Kobe and company for the upcoming playoffs.

This season the Lakers are 35-5 at home and the Jazz are only 15-25 in away games.

The Jazz come into this game after crushing the L.A. Clippers yesterday 106-85. The high scorer in that game was Carlos Boozer going for 20 points on 8/15 shooting. For the game the Jazz shot 35/77 from the floor for a FG% of 45.5%. On defense the Jazz allowed the Clippers to shoot 35/80 for a FG% of 43.8%.

The Lakers come into this game after an easy win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday 92-75. Andrew Bynum is back baby and he was the high scorer in this game going for 18 points on 6/10 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 38/84 for a FG% of 45.2%. On D the Lakers held the Griz to 26/71 for a paltry FG% of 36.6%.

This season the Lakers are the 3rd highest scoring team in the league (106.7 ppg) and the Jazz rank 7th (103.5 ppg). On defense the Lakers rank 13th in points allowed (99.1 ppg) and the Jazz rank 18th (100.6 ppg). The Lakers are a better team on the glass, as they have a rebounding differential of +2.6 rpg, while the Jazz are at +0.7 rpg.

This season the Lakers are 41-39-1 ATS and the Jazz are 38-42. In terms of Over/Under games the Lakers are 41-39-1 this season and the Jazz are 41-37-2.

On the injury front C Mehmet Okur and PG Deron Williams are day-to-day and SF C.J. Miles is Out for the Jazz and C Andrew Bynum is day-to-day for the Lakers.

The Jazz have lost 6 in a row at the Staples Center, but with a win over the Lakers tonight would give them a chance to move up if either the Hornets or Mavericks lose their regular season finale Wednesday since they hold the tiebreaker against both teams.

The game really means nothing to the Lakers, but they can gain an edge over the Jazz if they show them there is no way they can win in their house.

The Lakers have C Andrew Bynum (14.1 ppg 8 rpg) back and that is huge since the playoffs are almost here. Jazz C Mehmet Okur is banged up and he is not the best defensive center, especially against big centers like Bynum. Okur has a strained hamstring and if he cannot go it spells trouble for the Jazz.

Obviously the Jazz can’t stop Kobe (27 ppg), as nobody can, but they will have to play solid D on Bynum and Pau Gasol (18.9 ppg 9.6 rpg). If Gasol and Bynum dominate the boards, the Lakers should win this game easily. Oh yeah, the Jazz cannot forget about Lamar Odom (11.3 ppg 8.2 rpg) either, as he kills teams that only work to stop Kobe and Gasol.

Deron Williams (19.4 ppg) and Carlos Boozer (16.2 ppg) have to play solid tonight on both ends of the floor.

If the Jazz hope to have any chance against the Lakers if they play them in the first round of the playoffs they do not have to win this game, but they have to make it close.

Jason’s Pick: The Lakers don’t really have any reason to beat up the Jazz and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Jazz win this game straight up. Take Utah plus the points.