How do the Jazz win against a team that may or may not want to play them in the playoffs?
First, the Lakers probably don't care too much who they play in the first round. They might have a slight preference but whether it be the Jazz, the Hornets, or the Mavs, they're going to be heavily favored.
So we have two teams - one that probably couldn't care less what happens tonight and one who needs this win to turn around a late-season collapse.
Simply, the Jazz need to get physical and smack the Lakers around. I don't know why this team still gets branded as a physical team when we haven't had anyone fill that role outside of Harpring.
But if they start laying some nice picks, fouling hard around the basket, and not give up easy plays, Phil Jackson isn't going to want to use his players in an otherwise meaningless game. The Lakers players aren't going to want to deal with that for too long either.
Even if the Jazz lose, but they play physical, it will go a long ways to set the tone for the upcoming series.
As with any game for the Jazz, and especially on the road, they need to get off to a good start and avoid getting in a deep hole. I'm sure Kobe and company would much rather put the game away early and rest for most of the game. They don't want to be out there for a lot of minutes tonight in a close game. The last game at LA saw the Jazz get behind early in the first and never recovered.
How do the Jazz get off to that good start? It all starts with the D. Ronnie B is going to have to step it up on Kobe. The three bigs will have to keep the Lakers off the boards.
And Deron. This is as big of a regular season game as there's going to be. Most everything will start and end with him.
Game Thread coming at 8:15