The Lakers got out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004. After sweeping the dysfunctional Denver Nuggets they will face the Utah Jazz (defeated the Rockets 4-2), a team that will present a very different opposition, commanded by their strict coach Jerry Sloan.
The season series was won by the Lakers 3-1, with the detail that the loss was the worst of the Lakers season, 120-96. The Jazz have players like Carlos Boozer who gets 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, or Andrei Kirilenko who can contribute whatever his team needs, but the key piece is Deron Williams, one of the top points guards in the league this days, who leads Utah's offense, is strong and can score.
But the Lakers are in their best shape and with the presence of Pau Gasol the triangle offense is working better than ever, making Odom and Walton feel like fish in the water. Of course the Lakers also have the advantage provided by the services of the best basketball player in the world and soon-to-be Season MVP Kobe Bryant.
It will be interesting to see how Derek Fisher is welcome in Utah. With his experience and leadership he helped the young Jazz grow and reach the Conference Finals in 2007. The team released him from his contract to allow him to play in a city with better medical care for his daughter. Despite his contribution to the team's unexpected success, Fisher was booed when the Lakers played in Utah this season.