Can Utah's Soft Defense Stop the L.A. Lakers?

Jay MitchellContributor IApril 17, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 16:  Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on May 16, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Despite all of the troubles the Utah Jazz have had winning in the last two weeks, I do have to give them props in one area: they treat their opponent like royalty.

You know, they roll out the red carpet and give the other team a free path to the basket every time down the court.  It is kind of like they are playing against the Queen of England; you can look, but you can’t touch.

I recently stated that I sometimes think that my grandma could drop 20 points on Boozer.  After watching the Jazz play last two weeks, I want to change my statement a little bit.  I sometimes think that the duo of my grandma and grandpa could drop 50 points on the Jazz’s front court. 

Boozer would rather scream at the opponent than be bothered to actually try to not let them posterize him.  Wait, Boozer would actually have to be close to the man he is supposed to be guarding to get posterized. 

Okur is too busy thinking about shooting a trey the next time he touches the ball to play any sort of defense.  Or maybe he is thinking about his supermodel wife?  I forget which one, but either way it prevents him from playing defense.

Despite the horrible interior defense of the Jazz, I think that their guards tend to get an unfair label of being poor defenders.  It’s not their fault that Boozer and Okur can’t grasp the concept that they are supposed to get in the way of a guard coming off a screen to slow them down and allow time for their teammate to make their way past the screen.

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Now let’s move onto the preview of the series shall we?

Nobody is giving the Jazz much of a chance at forcing a game six, let alone actually winning the series, and rightfully so especially seeing how the Jazz have been flat, off-pitch, out of tune, and any other lame musical pun you can think of that would fit.

While I don’t give the Jazz much of a chance of beating the Lakers, I think that if they play up to their potential and stop their red carpet approach to defense, I think the Jazz can make this a good series and potentially pull off the huge upset.  This is a huge “if” though. 

I expect Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to have a field day offensively against Boozer and Okur.  When I think of this matchup, I can’t help but think that Bynum and Gasol will feel like little kids in a candy store. 

The Jazz have no answer for Kobe, especially when he decides to take it the hole every time.  In fact, Boozer and Okur have about as much chance at blocking Kobe as Isaiah Thomas has at winning Executive of the Year. 

While the Lakers have the advantage at most of the positions, they really can’t stop Deron Williams.  D-Will has played out of his mind in his previous playoff appearances, and seems to always have good games against the Lakers.  Too bad Deron can’t beat the Lakers all by himself.

I fully expect the Lakers to win the series, probably in six games, but you definitely shouldn’t automatically count the Jazz out before the series even starts.

Carlos Boozer wants a raise, and based on how he has played so far, he is more likely to get a pay-deduction.  Okur’s contract is coming to an end soon too.  If both of them realize that if they want to get paid big money they are going to have a strong showing in the playoffs and look like they actually have at least a remote interest in playing defense then I think the Jazz will have a slim chance of pulling off the upset.

Another thing that must happen for the Jazz to have any chance of not being swept is for Deron to attack the basket early and often.  He was able to get several Lakers in foul trouble early in the game on Tuesday because of his aggressiveness.  What better way to limit the production of Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol than making them ride the pine because of foul trouble?

Will the Jazz play up to their potential and make the Lakers actually work to advance to the second round, or will they play like they have the last few weeks and let the Lakers steam-roll them? 

I can’t give you the answer that, so we will just have to wait for the series to start and hope that it is at least somewhat entertaining.