Game 1- The Lakers came out and squashed any questions about rust right away. It was really maybe the best game played by the Lakers all series outside of game 6. The Jazz made a run but the Lakers took care of business and one fairly comfortably when it was all said and done.
Game 2- Kind of a carbon copy of game 1 except for the fact that the Jazz kept it a lot closer. However in the end Kobe Bryant used the momentum of getting his MVP to provide a night to remember for Lakers fans as we took a 2-0 lead.
Game 3- I didn't watch much of the first 3 quarters and still haven't gone back to watch them however it appears the Lakers played pretty sloppy and just not there best ball yet they nearly pulled it out. Carlos Boozer had his shinning moment of the series when he hit 3 killer shots in a row after the Lakers had cut the lead to 3.
Game 4- Again didn't see much of the first 3 quarters due to the Holiday. It was the Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom show in the 4th quarter though bringing us back from a 12 point deficit with 3 and a half to play to get it into overtime. Then in OT the Lakers got dumb and decided to have bad back Kobe take all the shots. I just didn't get their plan in the OT it appeared they where hoping the Jazz would just wilt. But thanks to Andrei Kirilenko who came up big blocking Kobe a few times and had a big game clinching 3 point play. In the end it could of been an instant classic for Laker fans but now that we won the series I think I can still consider it a classic.
Game 5- This was the story of just a hard fought game. The Lakers lead the entire way basically as the Jazz missed ample opportunities to take the lead. It was amazing they could cut into any kind of lead the Lakers made for themselves but once they got down to where 1 shot could give them the lead they just couldn't do it. TheLakers get a huge game from Pau Gasol and it helps propel them to the must win game 5 on there home court. Big props to Jordan Farmar to for hitting a few big shots in what was probably his one shinning moment of the series that big 3 point play.
Game 6- The Lakers utterly dominated the first 3 quarters and it looked like it was going to be a cake walk all the way. However the Jazz made a run and got it close. Then Kobe Bryant went for 6 points in a row that I thought had sealed the game putting the Lakers back up by 11 with Carlos Boozer fouling out. However the Jazz showed just why this series was never easy as they hit an insane five 3 pointers in a row capped by Andrei Kirilenko who hadn't made any all series nailing the last two. It became a nail bitter and the Jazz had two chances to tie it in the final seconds but they finally missed there 3's. As the Lakers held on for the 3 point win.
The Jazz really showed me just how great they are they have a great core of young players headlined by Derron Williams. I always knew Derron Williams was good I remember having to see my Badgers play him in College when he was at Illinois. However I think he is even better then I expected. If they can hang on to this great core I think we can see the next budding rivalry in the NBA. The Jazz and the Lakers may very well be battling it out for Western Conference glory in years to come. I think I can see the next big 3 in the West Lakers, Jazz, Hornets while the older big 3 is on there way out the Spurs, Suns, and Mavericks.
The Star Of The Series
It would be easy to just say Kobe Bryant but I think the unsung hero of this Laker squad is without a doubt Lamar Odom and that is why he is the star of this series. He came up so big for us on so many occasions. I would give a close second to Derek Fisher.
Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar defense on containing Derron Williams. I felt this was the key matchup of the series going into it and it proved to be. Derek Fisher did a solid job of at least slowing down Derron Williams and at least holding him in check. He didn't stop D Will but he did a nice job when he was not in foul trouble of at least limiting the damage.
Areas Of Improvement
The bench play needs to improve I felt our bench was lacking in this series again. Sasha Vujacic came up big for us in a few games but especially in game 4 the bench was outplayed by the Jazz's bench. This points at Jordan Farmar to who has not been very good in this post season. But he is youthful so we should cut him some slack.
Well it is pretty obvious we got killed on the boards however it did not hurt us in the end. So I must say this always has room for improvement.
Defense was pretty good but it was not great. I feel the Lakers have just been playing good enough defense to just get by now it is time for it to really to step up.
Preview of Western Conference Finals
Well the Spurs it is a rebirth of a classic rivalry from earlier in this decade. I think the theme of this series in the end will be out with the old in with the new. As the Spurs may be passing along that dynasty torch. The key to this series for the Lakers is the defense on Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. They both are going to get there's you know it's going to happen so maybe it will be about stopping the other Spurs. I'm just not too sure but without a doubt the one advantage the Spurs have on us is Tony Parker against Derek Fisher. It will be up to Fish to do what he did to Derron Williams and that is to limit the damage. We also get Trevor Ariza back which could prove to be of big help on defense.
In the end I say the Lakers win a classic 6 game series. Pre playoffs this is the series I had envisioned and it has happened. I said it would go 7 but I think the Lakers youth, talent, and speed will prevail. I think the Spurs older legs will have an effect especially in game 1 which I see as the only game that could be a potential blow out.
I'm predicting a Lakers 99-88 game one win, Lakers take game 2 by 5, Spurs take game 3 by 6, Spurs take game 4 by 3 as Kobe misses a tying 3 at the buzzer, The Lakers come home and play a classic with the Spurs in game 5 as they find a way to pull it out late for a 104-99 win. Then in game 6 theLakers make a big come back in the second half to win and advance to the finals with a 97-91 victory. Should be a lot of fun and as always best of luck to the Spurs and Go Lakers!!!!!!! The rebirth of a classic rivalry as the torch is passed!!!!!!!