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Boozer's ineffective defense shows why Jazz need Kirilenko back

May 3, 2010, 6:32 PM EST

According to the Associated Press, Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko says there’s a “50-50 chance” he’ll be able to play in games two and three of Utah’s series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

When healthy, Kirilenko is one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. With his outstanding athleticism and wingspan, Kirilenko is capable of matching up with any offensive player on the ball, and he’s a great help-side defender as well. Carlos Boozer is a great offensive player and rebounder, but he’s not the kind of defender that Kirilenko is.

On NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti has some screenshots illustrating how Boozer’s poor help defense on Kobe Bryant made it easier for Kobe to hit some crucial baskets down the stretch. If Kirilenko was in the game instead of Boozer, Milsap, or even C.J. Miles, there’s a distinct possibility he could have made life tougher for Kobe down the stretch of game one. (To be fair, there’s also a distinct possibility Kobe would have made the shots anyways. He’s good.)

Bryant looked human for long stretches against the Thunder in round one. Age and injury may have played a part in that, but remember that the Thunder had a lot of defenders with quick feet and the length necessary to bother Bryant on the perimeter. C.J. Miles and Wesley Matthews aren’t as good defensively as Sefolosha and Durant are, and Utah’s two best big men are undersized power forwards who aren’t known for their help defense.

Kirilenko might not be the defensive answer for Utah, but he gives them a better chance of slowing Bryant down than anyone currently suiting up for the Jazz does. Kirilenko or no Kirilenko, Jerry Sloan is going to have to find some way to make life tougher on Kobe if he doesn’t want to lose yet another series to a Phil Jackson team.

  1. LakerFan - May 4, 2010 at 2:47 AM

    Kirilenko was injured in early March and hasn’t played a game since. He won’t be able to stop Kobe. And age? Are you serious? Kobe is 31. Steve Nash is 37. Hello? Is anyone home? 31 is old to you? Kobe is feeling better now than he did the last 20 games of the regular season, and just now starting to hit his playoff stride. Kobe will blow by a hobbled Kirilenko so fast … Even in practice Kirilenko looked bad and that calf is about 60%. The few few easy layups Kobe gets, you’ll hear a timeout and Kirilenko will be replaced. Kobe wants people to believe he is injured; like a snake, a mamba, in fact. A black mamba. 39 points wasn’t enough for you in the first series versus OKC? 31 points wasn’t enough last weekend against the Jazz? Ok, maybe 40 or 50 will be enough? Find a new drum to beat. It won’t be the Lakers in this series. Thier team defense is too good and they have more than Kobe as an offensive weapon, not including low post superiority. The Lakers weak spot is the bench … and you’ll see that in the World Championship series. Someone has to step up.
    Lakers in 6 games. And Phil wins another series against Jerry Sloan.

  2. jazzfan - May 4, 2010 at 6:01 AM

    sadly the comments above are likely true.. I was actually a little surprised the jazz were that close. a healthy Kirilenko might make a small difference.. but a hobbling one certainly isn’t going to be the jazz’s savior..
    Hate losing to Phil.. but am really used to it now..

  3. Charles Clark - May 4, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    I’ve been a die-hard Lakers’ fan since 1960. I consider myself a “realist”. The Jazz are an excellent team. They will play hard to the end. Truth is, they’re simply are not deep enough to beat the Lakers. Out of respect, the Jazz will win one game at home, Lakers in five (5).

  4. thefeel - May 4, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Stop comparing Sloan to Jackson unless you want to compare them against each other as players – where Sloan kicked Jackson’s ass in talent and grit. If you were to turn things around and Sloan was the one coaching Jordan, Kobe, and O’Neil and Jackson had Stockton and Malone then Sloan would have 10 rings and Jackson zero. I’m sick and tired of all this B.S. about the “Zen Master”. Sloan has done more with less talent than any other coach in the NBA. Take a look at the current Jazz Roster – there is one freaking first round player on the team! Jackson is nothing more than a lucky S.O.B. to have been able to ride the two greatest talents in NBA history’s coat tails.

  5. Hyrum - May 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    I’m a huge fans and I really want to hate the Lakers, but I’m not homer enough for the Jazz to know that they have their work cut out for them. It’s not Kobe that is killing the Jazz. It’s the inside game of Gasol and Odom. The Lakers are lengthy and are excellent on the boards. The Jazz just don’t have the interior defense to match. If AK47 was healthy then maybe, but the other Jazz players replacing him in game 1, namely Millsap, Miles had excellent games. The outcome wouldn’t of been different. I think this will be Lakers in 6. (GRRRR GO JAZZ)!!!
    As far as Sloan vs. Jackson. It’s easy to say Jackson has won because he had the best players, but you know what? He still won. He’s a winner. I think Phil is a great motivator, but Sloan is a great Coach and tactitian. They are two different types of coaches but both masters.

  6. Hyrum - May 4, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    I’m a huge fans and I really want to hate the Lakers, but I’m not homer enough for the Jazz to know that they have their work cut out for them. It’s not Kobe that is killing the Jazz. It’s the inside game of Gasol and Odom. The Lakers are lengthy and are excellent on the boards. The Jazz just don’t have the interior defense to match. If AK47 was healthy then maybe, but the other Jazz players replacing him in game 1, namely Millsap, Miles had excellent games. The outcome wouldn’t of been different. I think this will be Lakers in 6. (GRRRR GO JAZZ)!!!
    As far as Sloan vs. Jackson. It’s easy to say Jackson has won because he had the best players, but you know what? He still won. He’s a winner. I think Phil is a great motivator, but Sloan is a great Coach and tactitian. They are two different types of coaches but both masters.

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