Billups and the Clippers need to take care of business at home against the LA Clippers tonight.

It's all about matchups

It’s funny how little some of the mainstream media knows about the game. Before Friday’s game between the Lakers and Jazz, ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote that the Jazz could be the team facing the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. And of course anybody that watched the game saw that Utah has no shots against the Lakers, but even leading up to the game it was pretty easy to tell the outcome. The thing is, and Mark Jackson said it in the Lakers/Jazz game it is all about matchups.

I know fans can ridicule this statement, but as a Nuggets fan I’d rather face the Lakers instead of the Suns or the Mavericks in the playoffs and I’m sure the Mavericks would rather face the Nuggets than the Blazers or Thunder in the first round. It is all about matchups. So as a Nuggets fan I’m hoping for the 3-spot in the playoffs.

Lakers/Jazz and playoff tidbits

  • The Jazz had lost to the Lakers twice earlier (once at home) and this game was in Los Angeles.
  • Utah hadn’t faced a team even close to the Lakers caliber since they lost to the Suns back in March.
  • The Jazz has struggled against the elite teams in the League (9-11), losing season-series to the Lakers, Hawks and Nuggets.
  • And if we want to be like Hollinger lets look at the head-to-head stats between the two teams. The Lakers were plus-10.3 in the scoring differential going into Friday’s matchup and are now +11.3.
  • The Jazz do have advantages over the Suns (plus-2.3) and the Mavericks (plus 6.3).
  • The Nuggets on the other hand are plus-11 against the Lakers, plus-4 against the Jazz and Mavericks (with the advantage of 36-point home shellacking of Dallas). The only team in the top five in the West the Nuggets have a negative differential with is the Suns, who have a plus-10.3 against the Nuggets.
  • The Lakers are plus-5.3 against the Mavericks and plus-7.5 with the Suns.
  • Between the Suns and Mavericks, Dallas has a minor advantage at plus-1.3.

Playoff race

  • Denver (49-27)- For the best chance at winning the 2-spot the Nuggets need to go 6-0. WINS: LA Clippers, Memphis; WINNABLE: At Oklahoma City, San Antonio; TOUGHEST: Lakers, At Phoenix. 54-28/53-29/52-30
  • Dallas (50-26)- The Mavericks need to lose three of their final six games for the Nuggets to have a shot. Tonight’s game against Oklahoma City is logical, because the Mavs don’t matchup well with them. So are away games at Portland and Sacramento and at least a home games against Memphis and San Antonio. WINS: Memphis, At LA Clippers; WINNABLE: Oklahoma City, San Antonio, At Sacramento; TOUGHEST: At Portland. 55-27/54-28
  • Phoenix (50-26) – The Suns also need to drop three of their final games. Road games at Utah, Milwaukee and Oklahoma CIty will be tough for the aging Suns.WINS: HoustonWINNABLE: San Antonio, Denver, At Oklahoma City.TOUGHEST: At Milwaukee and At Utah.
  • Utah (50-27)- Currently the Jazz have a 1/2 games ahead of the Nuggets and since the Nuggets own the tiebreaker they need Utah to at least drop  two of their final five. Back-to-back contests against New Orleans and home against the Thunder could be chalked up in the loss column. WINNABLE: At Golden State, At New Orleans, Phoenix, At Houston; TOUGHEST: Oklahoma City. 54-28/53-29

Photo the courtesy of Jonathan Maness

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets John Hollinger Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns Playoff Matchups Utah Jazz

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