Some of you may have noticed my pick for the Lakers-Jazz series and been taken aback. Though I've been on the Utah bandwagon for much of the year, I have to switch allegiances and pick L.A. in this one.
The reason? More data. The first round gave us an additional look at each team -- in my case, twice in person for both sides -- and L.A.'s sweep of Denver certainly was more impressive than the Jazz's rocky six-game outing against Houston.
More importantly, we now have a bigger sample in the Pau Gasol file, and it's an impressive one. L.A. is now 26-4 when he plays more than three minutes, with an awesome plus-11.7 victory margin. Taking a team on a roll like that and giving them home-court advantage to boot, it's tough to pick against them.
On the Utah side, I also have questions about Deron Williams' health -- though he played much better in the clincher Friday -- and about Carlos Boozer's generally lackluster play over the past month.
I still think it will be an outstanding series, and that the winner will be the Western Conference champion. I still think the Jazz could win, especially if they can impose their physical style on the more finesse-oriented Lakers.
But if I have to back one horse, the Lakers' recent excellence forces me to reverse field and go with L.A. in six.