The Los Angeles Lakers have two tangibles that give them a distinct advantage over the Utah Jazz Sunday night when the teams tip-off their conference semifinal playoffs round. That is league MVP Kobe Bryant and the Staples Arena crowd. While it’s not official until Wednesday’s announcement, Kobe Bryant will be announced as MVP by Commissioner David Stern at that time.
Los Angeles has had six days rest since sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the first round. That brings up the question; will the Lakers be able to match the rhythm of Utah who just won a grueling seven-game series with the Houston Rockets?
The Lakers won three of the four regular-season games between the teams, but were without Pau Gasol in all four. Three were played before he joined the Lakers on Feb. 1, and he missed the fourth because of a sprained ankle. Despite playing short-handed, the Lakers won a 106-95 decision March 20 to snap Utah's 19-game home winning streak. The Jazz had an NBA-best 37-4 record at home, but they were just 17-24 on the road.
Oddsmakers at online sportsbook Bodoglife.com currently have the Lakers listed as 8-point favorites ATS and -400 ML versus the Jazz, while the game's total is sitting at 213.
The Jazz had seven players reach double figures on Friday, as they defeated the Rockets 113-91 and took that Western Conference first-round series in six games.
The Jazz covered the 7.5-point spread, and the combined 204 points sailed OVER the posted total of 180.5.
Deron Williams had 25 points with six rebounds and nine assists in leading the Jazz. Mehmet Okur chipped in with 19 points in the Game 6 victory.
Bryant had 31 points, seven rebounds, and six assists as the Lakers handled the Denver Nuggets 107-101 last Monday night to win their Western Conference quarterfinal series 4-0.
Los Angeles covered as 4-point road favorites as the teams played under the 228-point total listed by oddsmakers.
NBA Playoffs Pick: Lakers -8