The Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz will face off for the third time this season on Sunday, April 9th, at the Staples Center.
The Lakers are coming off a thrilling overtime win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday, while the Jazz are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Here are three things to know about this matchup between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
1. The Lakers have a chance to sweep the season series against the Jazz.
The Lakers have won both of their previous meetings with the Jazz this season, both in Utah. The first one was a 127-115 overtime victory on April 17th, 2021, when Andre Drummond had 27 points and eight rebounds in his second game as a Laker.
The second one was a 110-94 blowout on February 24th, 2022, when LeBron James had 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Anthony Davis returned from a calf injury to score 15 points in 17 minutes.
The Lakers have not swept the season series against the Jazz since the 2010-11 season, when they won all four games.
2. The Jazz have the best record in the NBA, but they are vulnerable on the road.
The Jazz have been dominant this season, leading the NBA with a 62-15 record as of April 8th. They have the best offensive rating (117.4) and net rating (11.4) in the league, and they rank second in defensive rating (106.0). They also have the most wins (38) and the highest winning percentage (.844) at home.
However, they have been less impressive on the road, where they have a 24-15 record and a .615 winning percentage. They have lost four of their last six road games, including two to teams with losing records (Washington and Minnesota).
3. The Lakers need to contain Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
The Jazz are led by their All-Star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, who have been playing at an MVP level this season. Mitchell is averaging career-highs in points (26.7), assists (5.3) and three-pointers made (3.5) per game, while shooting 44.1% from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc.
He has scored at least 30 points in 25 games this season, including a career-high 57 points against the Nuggets on January 26th. Gobert is averaging career-highs in rebounds (13.7) and blocks (2.8) per game, while shooting a league-best 68.0% from the field.
He leads the NBA in defensive win shares (5.6) and ranks second in defensive rating (100.6). He has recorded 46 double-doubles and nine games with at least five blocks this season. The Lakers will need to limit Mitchell’s scoring and playmaking ability, and challenge Gobert’s rim protection and rebounding prowess.
Final Thoughts: Lakers vs. Jazz – A Clash of Western Conference Titans
The Lakers-Jazz matchup on April 9th promises to be a thrilling encounter between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are looking to build on their recent form and complete a season sweep against the Jazz, who have been the best team in the NBA this season. The Jazz, on the other hand, are looking to bounce back from a tough loss to the Suns and secure their position at the top of the standings.
One of the key factors in this matchup will be the Lakers’ ability to contain Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Mitchell has been playing at an All-Star and MVP level this season, leading the Jazz in scoring and playmaking.
He has been a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, with his ability to shoot from distance and attack the rim with equal effectiveness. The Lakers will need to throw multiple defenders at Mitchell, force him into tough shots, and limit his ability to create for others.
Gobert, meanwhile, has been the backbone of the Jazz defense, leading the league in rebounding and blocks per game. His ability to protect the rim and control the glass has been critical to the Jazz’s success this season.
The Lakers will need to challenge Gobert’s dominance in the paint, with their own big men Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis needing to be aggressive on both ends of the floor.
Another factor to consider is the Jazz’s road form. While they have been dominant at home, their record on the road has been more vulnerable, with four losses in their last six games away from home.
The Lakers will look to take advantage of this, as they try to secure their position in the Western Conference playoff race.
Overall, this matchup promises to be a fascinating encounter between two teams with contrasting styles and strengths.
The Lakers will need to be at their best to complete the season sweep against the Jazz, who will be determined to bounce back and maintain their position at the top of the NBA standings.