The Utah Jazz hold a 38-12 record, the best in the league. They rank 3rd in scoring, 4th in defense, and 4th in blocks per game (thanks to Rudy Gobert). Besides, the Jazz have 3 All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley. But as good as they have been, the Lakers are on another level on both ends of the floor.
The Lakers will have the advantage if both teams clash in the postseason because they have key factors in their favor that Utah do not have. In terms of physical and mental intangibles, the Purple and Gold will overcome a worse regular-season record to beat the Jazz. Here are the 5 reasons the Los Angeles Lakers will defeat the Utah Jazz in the playoffs.
5. Championship Confidence
The Lakers have something that cannot be earned during the regular season, and that is championship experience. This Lakers team breezed through the NBA playoffs last year and had the NBA’s best all-around team. This season, the Lakers might have gotten better with the likes of Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell joining the team in their primes.
Of course, LeBron and Davis are the franchise leaders and have continuity in their group. Los Angeles have played at the highest level in the biggest stage of them all, meaning they will know how to play under the bright lights. Even newcomer Montrezl Harrell has been a part of a playoff team with expectations last year with the Clippers. The Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA, but they have not been on the biggest stage of them all, while the Lakers already proved they are NBA champions.
4. The Lakers Have More Talent
Utah are getting contributions from many different players this season. Donovan Mitchell is averaging 25.6 PPG to lead the team, while his All-Star teammates Rudy Gobert (14.6 PPG and 13.2 RPG) and Mike Conley (16.3 PPG) are having career years. Even Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic are putting up 17.3 PPG and 14.8 PPG to help Utah get the 3rd ranked offense.
But even with all Utah’s scoring threats, the Lakers have more talent. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are top-5 players and are averaging 25.4 PPG and 22.5 PPG despite missing a combined 36 games so far this season. Schroder is putting up 15.3 PPG and 5.1 APG while Harrell is chipping in 15.1 PPG and 6.8 RPG. These 4 players are more talented than Utah’s top players, and the Lakers have more depth with Kyle Kuzma averaging 12.7 PPG and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope draining 39.7% of his threes.
3. Anthony Davis Will Be Ready
Anthony Davis has missed 27 games for the Lakers this season, and there are many doubts about his long-term health. Davis has a history of injuries affecting his entire body, so it is normal for outsiders to worry. But make no mistake, Davis will be ready for the postseason. Davis could return to the Lakers sooner, but it is expected the franchise will sit him to ensure his injury is 100% healed.
A healthy Anthony Davis gives the Lakers a massive advantage over Utah. The Jazz defeated the Lakers on February 24 in a 114-89 victory (without Anthony Davis), and that shows the difference the best big man in the game can make. Rudy Gobert is a contender for his 3rd Defensive Player of the Year Award, but even he cannot stop Davis who is quicker and an unstoppable scorer.
2. LeBron James Can Adjust To Any Offense And Defense In The World
LeBron James is still the best player in the world. The King has missed 9 games for the Lakers this season but he will also be at full health for the playoffs. LeBron was in the MVP race earlier in the year but he will not play at his best for the remainder of the regular season. A rested King means no player has a chance to be better than the Lakers superstar in the playoffs.
LeBron is averaging 25.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 7.9 APG at 36 years old, which means he impacts the game better than anyone. LeBron will be able to lead his team on offense, even with Gobert inside. He will adjust to Utah’s strong interior defense and make sure he pushes the pace to prevent them from setting up. On offense, LeBron controls the pace better than anyone. Having arguably the greatest player of all time on the Lakers means he will make adjustments to defeat any team in the league including the best team in the NBA.
1. Playoffs Pressure
Postseason pressure is real, and the Utah Jazz fell victim to that last season. Up 3-1 against the Denver Nuggets in the first round, they could not close the deal against a contender. While Utah is a better team this year thanks to the improved play of Mike Conley (16.3 PPG on 41.4% shooting from three) and Jordan Clarkson (17.3 PPG), there is evidence they will falter to the Lakers thanks to pressure.
Donovan Mitchell is a tremendous player with a ton of upside, but he is not quite good enough to usurp LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Mitchell is not an MVP player because he is not among the top-10 players in the world, and that means the pressure will be on Utah. The Lakers can handle any pressure because of their franchise prestige and also their superstar power, meaning the Jazz are very likely to fold with the lights shining brightest.