After a high scoring series against the Denver Nuggets, Coach Jackson said before today’s game that he expects there to be an entirely different tone when the Lakers tip off against the Jazz in Game 1 this afternoon.
“One’s a little more up-tempo and the other one’s a little more of a half court set,” Jackson said, comparing Utah’s offense to Denver. “Scoring is low. Utah though can play and does like to play at a higher tempo rhythm. I thought Houston tried their best to slow it down and make sure there’s no easy baskets.”
“We have to watch our pace in this game and make sure it’s at our style and pace and the type of game we want to have,” said Jackson. “We had to slow down Denver a little but. This game, we’re going to have to control the pace also.”
Today’s game is merely the latest in a long line of playoff battles between Jackson and Jerry Sloan, who faced off against the Jazz coach in the NBA Finals while he was with Chicago Bulls.
“This team is challenged to play hard,” said Jackson, alluding to Sloan’s notoriously hard-edged motivation techniques. “They play hard as a result. They lead the league in fouls and foul shots given and that’s an indicator of how they play their games. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to challenge you at the basket. They look to strip and steal the ball on the defensive end.”
To combat the Jazz’ physicality, Jackson said that the Lakers can’t be deterred from penetrating and settling for outside shots.
“I don’t think I have to stress that,” said Jackson. “I want players to penetrate…to get that penetration. This team will take charges. They have guys that will take charges…Kirilenko, Boozer and Okur. We don’t want to turn the ball over when we’re penetrating, but we don’t want to settle for jump shots too.”