The Utah Jazz made their point to the Denver Nuggets: we're not going to be intimidated. And they followed to that statement, beating Carmelo Anthony and Nuggets in six games to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
The Jazz have fallen close a lot for the past few years in the playoffs. It brings back memories to the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals as John Stockton and Karl Malone fell to Michael Jordan's heroics in those games.
The Jazz haven't made it to the Finals since.
Now the Jazz need to make things happen for this year with a new team. Deron Williams would be the John Stockton and Karl Malone would obviously be Carlos Boozer. The Jazz also have their other key players like Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap. The Jazz also still have their same coach from the 90's era: Jerry Sloan.
This is a new team with a new dream.
Second round of the playoffs. The Jazz will have to create a competition. Deron Williams will most likely be a game-time decision, but if he plays, he can create some havoc on Lakers' aging point guard in Derek Fisher.
But we don't need to worry about Williams if he struggles. He's ready.
"I'm all right," Williams said when asked about his elbow. "Ready to go."
Wesley Matthews versus Kobe Bryant looks to be interesting and I'd like to see or Kirilenko does versus Ron Artest if he is able to play. But even if Kirilenko doesn't play for Game One on Sunday at 3:30, he is ready for the other games.
"It feels great, feeling better and better," Kirilenko said. "Update on the game-wise—probably not Sunday, maybe Tuesday or pretty much sure Game 3."
Carlos Boozer looks to dominate on Pau Gasol but will have to guard him well. Gasol was very valuable in Game Six when LA took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe missed his game-winning jumper, which he usually makes. Gasol came up and battled for the rebound and tipped it back in.
Fesenko is going to have to put up a fight against Andrew Bynum. It's going to be interesting, though. Jazz really wish Mehmet Okur wasn't out for the season, huh? Jazz will also have to defend Lamar Odom, too.
But although these match-ups will seem entertaining to watch, who is going to stop this Los Angeles Lakers team? The last two years, nobody has been able to stop this advanced squad.
What the Jazz need to pay attention to is to stop Kobe and Bynum as much as possible. You never know if Gasol will do good or bad and Odom is a sixth man. Boozer can hold down Gasol but Bynum looks to dominate Fesenko.
But I think the Jazz can create a problem for this Lakers' team. Boozer will be productive but the key for the Jazz to get this done is if Kirilenko can show up strong and Deron Williams. Injuries will have to be at the very low minimium after Game One.
I believe this series willl indeed go to seven games, but who will come out on top? Don't underestimate the Jazz because they're at the fourth seed. They were underestimated a bit against the Nuggets and they showed up big there.
They could show up big here against L.A.
Oh well, I guess we'll see. Enjoy the series, folks.