Lakers Got Totem-Pole Length: Every Guy You Run into Is Taller Than the One Before Him

In my Lakers/Thunder preview, I focused on how the long giants of the Lakers’ front line would beast the Jazz’s midget interior. (Respectively speaking here, obviously … 6’8/6’9″ guys like Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap are fairly tall.) Well, that’s what we saw in Game 1, both on offense (Pau had 25 points on 15 shots) and, particularly, on defense.

The Jazz had trouble simply even passing the ball around the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom (or even when one of those three was “short guy” Ron Artest). This, more than anything else, made the usually-surgical Jazz offense look mostly pedestrian

And Kevin Arnovitz wrote a whole great piece on the topic earlier tonight on TrueHoop.

Jerry Sloan’s system is predicated on continuity. For many NBA teams, scoring is a matter of finding the best one-and-one mismatch on the floor, the exploiting it, but that’s not the case for the Jazz. They flow into their offense by moving the ball in a pattern. The system relies on crisp passes to players who dart off screens away from the ball, and often on entry passes into Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap from the wings. Against an undisciplined, average-sized team like Denver, swinging the ball around the court is child’s play. But the Lakers make that task extremely difficult.

“Those passes you usually see Wes [Matthews], Kyle [Korver] and I make from the wings? It’s hard to zip those passes because you have three 7-footers with their arms out,” Jazz forward C.J. Miles said.

The success of Utah’s scheme depends on fluid motion, which means the Jazz can’t afford any hesitation or else the offense stalls. Since the Jazz don’t have many shot-creators who can burn the defense in isolation, the ball must keep moving, something that doesn’t come without risk against the Lakers’ battalion of big men.

“Battalion.” Great word. Well done, Kevin.

And, reader, go read the rest of Kevin’s well-done piece. Otherwise, you would miss some more great stuff on the most important element of this second round match-up. Don’t listen to the TV commentators. Kobe vs. Deron, while awesome and more fun to watch/talk about, isn’t the primary factor that will decide this series.

It’s length, length and more length.

Even DWill knows this.

“Unless I grow another three inches before tomorrow, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Williams said.

Try Enzyte, my man. I hear it works

Lakers Defense Length

Good luck with that, Boozer. Should be a really fun series for you and Mr. Millsap. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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