NBA Playoffs Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Game 4

Saturday night, the Detroit Pistons became the first road team (in the second round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs) to win a game on the road. This afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers will become the second team to accomplish this feat… I’ll tell you why. As the Utah Jazz will host the Los Angeles Lakers at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah this afternoon at 3:30 pm EST on ABC. has the Utah Jazz favorite by the small margin of just -1 ½ over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers and the over/under set at a combined 211 points.

How will the Lakers beat a team, which has seemingly been invincible during the regular season and the playoffs? (The Jazz are 40-5 so far at home in the regular season and the playoffs). The answer is very simple; LA must play their game. Game 3 was just a horrendous game for the team from Tensile Town.

They uncharacteristically turned the ball over 18 times. Lamar Odom took just 3 shots (and made all three) the entire game, and finished with 13. Pau Gasol was not very aggressive, going 6-10 from the field for his 12. And to top it off the Lakers bench, which has been one of the best all season long, in game 3 it was an absolutely a non factor.

The only bright spot for LA was the MVP Kobe Bryant's performance. Bryant continues to play at a career playoff high level, every single game.  

On the other hand, Utah played a masterful game. F Carlos Boozer just dominated the game, with 27 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocked shots. The Jazz’s C Okur was absolutely on fire. The guy couldn’t miss, as he contributed with 22 points (including 4-7 shooting the 3-ball). PG D. Williams had 18, and Harpring and Kirilenko both pitched in with 12 apiece.

By looking at these stats, the Jazz played just a perfect game: balanced scoring up and down the roster, forced a lot of turnover (which turned to easy baskets in transition), rebounded the ball well (as they’ve done all series), and out-hustled the Lakers to almost every loose ball. So even with all this (in the Jazz’s favor), Utah managed to win by a mere 5 points. 5 points, which should have been, even less, if the Lakers could have just held on to the ball in the final minutes of the game.

So with Utah playing a perfect game and the Lakers playing their worse game of the playoffs, LA (with all the chances they had) should still have won that game.

Look for the Lakers to win this game by scoring a lot of points, but the difference here, will be their defense. Expect the Lakers to clamp down defensively and not allow Utah to run free as they did in game 3. Lakers go back to Hollywood with a commanding 3-1 series lead.   

NBA Playoffs Prediction: LAL + 1 ½