Just when it looked like the defending champs were in trouble versus the Thunder, the Lakers rose to the challenge and now will meet the Jazz at LA's Staples Center.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue their march towards back-to-back titles Sunday afternoon against the surprising Utah Jazz.
Los Angeles was anointed eight-point 'chalk' for the series opener with the total set at 202. Bookmaker.com posted the Lakers minus 400 to win the series, with the Jazz plus 330.
The No. 1 seeded Lakers (61-27 straight-up, 36-49-3 against the spread) survived a toughs series with Oklahoma City, winning 4-2 after Friday night. A Pau Gasol tip-in with under one second left gave them a 95-94 victory as one-point road dogs.
Los Angeles was 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) at home in the series and 1-2 SU (1-2 ATS) away.
L.A. is happy to advance and avoid a Game 7, but there are some worrying signs. Kobe Bryant averaged 23.5 PPG in the series, shooting just 40.8 percent from the field. He did score 32 points in Game 6 (12-of-25 shooting), and it remains to be seen how much his injured finger and knee will bother him.
Sign up to win prizes in SBR Contests!
Gasol (18 PPG) and fellow big man Andrew Bynum (12 PPG) were next on the scoring list. The Lakers’ 95.5 PPG was six points less than during the regular season (101.7 PPG).
The Lakers now return home where they’re 37-7 SU and 18-24-2 ATS. They’re 1-7 ATS in their last eight games following a SU win.
The ‘under’ went 2-1 in L.A.’s first round home games and is 7-2 in the last nine at home overall.
Utah (57-31 SU, 53-32-3 ATS) was a No. 5 seed against No. 4 Denver, but won the series in impressive fashion 4-2.
The Jazz lost the first game in Denver, 126-113 as 5 ½-point ‘dogs. They stormed back to go 4-1 SU and ATS, all without injured center Mehmet Okur and forward Andrei Kirilenko.
The Jazz closed out Denver on Friday night, 112-104 as 6 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ The 216 combined points scored just sneaked ‘over’ the 215 ½-point total. The ‘over’ went 5-1 in the series with Utah scoring 110.5 PPG.
Point guard Deron Williams averaged 25.8 PPG and Carlos Boozer added 22.5 PPG. Williams hurt his elbow on a pick by Denver’s Chris Andersen late in Game 6. It’s not expected to keep him out and the Jazz can’t afford another injury.
Utah is 22-22 SU on the road as opposed to 35-9 SU at home. The ATS record away is 24-19-1, but it won and ‘covered’ just one of three at Denver.
These teams have met three times this year, with Los Angeles going 3-1 SU and ATS. Los Angeles ‘covered’ both home games, winning by 24 and 14 points respectively.
The Jazz are 0-14 SU and 3-11 ATS in their last 14 meetings at the Lakers. Los Angeles eliminated them in the playoffs the last two years, going 6-0 SU (3-3 ATS) at home.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in the meetings this year and 7-0 in the last seven.
Los Angeles has a height advantage down low with Gasol and Bynum both seven-footers. Kyrylo Fesenko, a 7-foot-1 center, started in place of Okur and played 18 minutes per game. He is a very limited scorer.
Okur is out for the season, with Kirilenko (calf) doubtful for Game 1. Boozer (6-foot-9) and reserve Paul Millsap (6-foot-8) play most of the big man minutes, and each give up several inches.
Utah is really only playing seven players, so fatigue could be a factor unless Kirilenko returns soon. The Lakers’ bench didn’t do much against Oklahoma City, especially Lamar Odom (7.8 PPG), but he could easily break out.
Los Angeles is not reporting any significant injuries. ABC will have the tip-off at 3:30 p.m. (ET) from Staples Center.