This is a great matchup of the two best teams in the NBA without a doubt. It will be interesting to see how the Big Three of the Celtics handle this series seeing how none of them have a ring. It can be somewhat intimidating dealing with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson who each have handfuls of championship rings. Here’s a closer look at the matchups:
POINT GUARD: Rajon Rondo has done a good job of running the offense and playing defense in the playoffs. His all out hustle often inspires his team to play better when he is on the court. Rondo has started all 20 games this post season for the Celtics and he has averaged 33.4 minutes, 10.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He will definately have a speed advantage over the ancient Derek Fisher of the Lakers.
Derek Fisher is more of a shooting guard than a point guard as Kobe Bryant brings the ball up as much as he does. Fisher has been really hot from the outside this post season as he has nailed 19 of 34 (55.9%) shots from the three point line. He has started all 15 games this post season for the Lakers and he has averaged 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
EDGE: SLIGHT FOR CELTICS
SHOOTING GUARD: Ray Allen has not played well this post season but if the Celtics want to win the NBA Championship he must do better. Allen has started all 20 games this post season for the Celtics and he is averaging 37.1 minutes, 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Allen must be ready on defense also because he will likely be dealing a lot with league MVP Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA right now and no one on the Celtics will be able to stop him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him average between 35-40 points per game in this series. Bryant has started all 15 games for the Lakers this post season and he is averaging 40.3 minutes, 31.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Bryant is shooting 50.9% from the floor this post season and that proves that he is still a money player.
EDGE: HUGE FOR LAKERS
SMALL FORWARD: Paul Pierce has been inconsistent in the post season but he’s had some big games. He will cause a matchup problem for the Lakers who are not very athletic at small forward. Pierce has started all 20 games this post season for the Celtics and he has averaged 37.9 minutes, 19.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Look for him to have a really good series against the Lakers.
Vladmimir Radmanovic will have his hands full with Paul Pierce. He is not a physical player and that will cause problems in this series. Radmanovic has started all 15 games for the Lakers this post season and he is averaging 23.5 minutes, 8.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
EDGE: HUGE FOR CELTICS
POWER FORWARD: Kevin Garnett has carried the Celtics on his back to the NBA Finals as he has played very well. He has started all 20 games this post season for the Celtics and he is averaging 38.0 minutes, 21.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocked shots per game. The Big Ticket will likely cause big matchup problems for the Lakers.
Lamar Odom is the silent assassin of the Lakers as he does everything well. He will often try to drag Garnett away from the basket to shoot long range jumpers on offense. Odom has started all 15 games this post season for the Lakers and he has averaged 37.7 minutes, 14.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 blocked shots per game. How Odom plays in this series will tell how good of a chance the Lakers have to win it.
CENTER: All the Celtics want Kendrick Perkins to do is to rebound and play defense which are two things he does fairly well. Perkins has started all 20 games for the Celtics this post season and he is averaging 27.0 minutes, 7.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 1.4 blocked shots. He will have his hands full with Pau Gasol.
When the Lakers stole Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies you just knew the Lakers were going to take off and that’s exactly what they did. Gasol gives the Lakers a big time running mate for Kobe Bryant. Gasol has started all 15 games this post season for the Lakers and he has averaged 40.1 minutes, 17.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.5 blocked shots per game. Gasol should have a good series against the Celtics.
BENCH: The Celtics have not been playing the bench much in the playoffs but they might need some help from them in this series. James Posey has been the best player off the bench this post season for the Celtics as he is a good outside shooter who can really play defense. Posey has played in all 20 games for the Celtics this post season and he is averaging 21.1 minutes, 6.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Sam Cassell has not played well this post season but he is generally a big game player so that could change. He will have to start shooting better (32.2% from the floor) if he wants to get off the bench much in the Finals. Cassell has played in 16 games this post season and he is averaging 13.3 minutes, 4.7 points, 0.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Leon Powe is a banger inside and he should get to play some in this series. Powe has played in 17 games this post season and he is averaging 12.8 minutes, 4.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game. P.J. Brown could give the Celtics some rebounding and defense in small spurts off the bench. Brown has played in 19 games this post season and he is averaging 11.8 minutes, 2.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game. Glen “Big Baby” Davis won’t get much playing time as he is behind Powe and Brown on the depth chart. Davis has played in 16 games this post season and he is averaging 7.7 minutes, 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game. Eddie House won’t see the floor much either. He has played in 17 games this post season and he is averaging 5.4 minutes, 1.2 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game.
The Lakers bench isn’t very deep and most of the players they use have a similar skill set as they are good shooters but they are soft with the exception of Ronny Turiaf. Sasha Vujacic is one of the three point gunners off the bench as he has hit 41.1% from three point range in the playoffs this year. Vujacic has played in all 15 games for the Lakers this post season and he is averaging 21.5 minutes, 8.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. Luke Walton was a starter last season for the Lakers but he’s coming off the bench this year. He does give a all out effort off the bench as he is shooting 45% from three point range this post season. Walton has played in all 15 games in the playoffs this season and he is averaging 19.1 minutes, 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Jordan Farmar is the backup at point guard for the Lakers. He has played in all 15 games this post season and he is averaging 16.3 minutes, 5.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Ronny Turiaf subs behind Odom & Gasol so he doesn’t get to play much. Turiaf has played in 13 games this post season for the Lakers and he is averaging 9.6 minutes, 2.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game.
PREDICTION: I THINK THE CELTICS HAVE THE BETTER TEAM BUT MY GUT TELLS ME THE LAKERS WILL WIN THIS IN 7 GAMES. I JUST DON’T SEE DOC RIVERS OUTCOACHING PHIL JACKSON IN THIS SERIES.