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Who Do You Want? Round I

We'll be doing this from time to time, in particular as the time comes to start thinking about the next playoff series. Today, we're starting with the First Round. Sound off on which first round opponent would be easier, which would be tougher, and which one you actually want — and why.

We'll be doing this from time to time, in particular as the time comes to start thinking about the next playoff series. Today, we're starting with the First Round.

While the odds are definintely on a first round series with Utah, that's certainly not guaranteed. As we discussed earlier, a Dallas loss and a Utah win (tonight, at Staples Center) would bring the Mavericks to Los Angeles in the first round, rather than the Jazz. To many, Dallas is a more favorable opponent; to some, so much so that they'd like the Lakers to bench their star players and let Utah have tonight's game, in favor of an easier road to the Finals.

Of course, there's also the question of why you want who you want? Some will want the easiest opponents possible, from beginning to end, in order to give the Lakers the best chance at bringing home the trophy.

Others will want the toughest opponent possible in each round, simply because it will prepare the Lakers for whichever team comes out of the East — none of whom is going to be a walk in the park.

Still others will prefer the toughest opponent, simply to quiet any haters that might try to cite an easy playoff schedule for LA and a tough playoff schedule for Cleveland/Boston/Orlando as an asterisk if the Lakers win the trophy.

The general consensus has seemed to be that Dallas would be an easier opponent, while Utah, though not much of a challenge, would be tougher because of their physicality. But not everyone agrees. klofslofski had this to say last night:

While the Jazz do play a much more physical game, I think that as they are right now they scare me less than the Mavs. Not that Mavs would win or even come close really, but they scare me more to get hot and win a game or two. The Jazz right now seem extremely fragile mentally, on the point of collapse if not past it. The team just doesn’t seem to believe in itself anymore, especially on the road. Ultimately, the games may be a little more bruising, but if there are fewer of them (and I forsee a Utah sweep as completely possible, Jerry Sloan coaching and all) it could well be a net gain.

pslakersfan adds, and others seem to agree, that "The Jazz aren’t nearly as tough of a matchup when we have a healthy Bynum" — particularly because Phil Jackson could put Odom on Okur, who likes to hang out on the perimeter, allowing Bynum to decimate Utah's front line.

jksnake99 adds this comment, again supporting the idea that the Jazz, while more physical, may be much easier than many seem to think:

Also, are you sure you don’t want to play Utah? They just let CJ Watson drop 38 points on them in a GSW win in SLC.

Jazz fan UtesFan89 adds that a Lakers victory tonight could mentally break the Jazz, making them ideal first round opponents:

Though, with the mental make-up of the Jazz right now, a semi-big, or just impressive, win by the Lakers tomorrow night could do the Jazz in for the playoffs

hertagnism adds that the rise of Shannon Brown over Jordan Farmar in the rotation may be yet another factor in making a series against the Jazz this year much easier than it was last year. pslakerfan runs with this idea, suggesting that "if [Brown] can D up on D Will anything he brings on offense is gravy. We have enough offensive weapons that without D Will being too effective I don’t think Utah can keep up."

Their points are valid ones. The Jazz seem mentally weak, and for a variety of reasons, might actually be less likely than the Mavs to steal a game or two. And wouldn't four or five physical games against Utah still be better than five or six less physical games against Dallas?

Sound off in the comments, and let us know why you vote the way you do. Also, make sure to vote in the Featured Poll (found in the right sidebar), to let us know whether you want an easy road to the Finals, or a hard one, and why.

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