|Position-by-position matchups for the NBA finals|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 31 May 2008 10:37|
CENTER: Kendrick Perkins vs. Pau Gasol. The Lakers wouldn't be here without their midseason acquisition of Gasol from Memphis. He's a good passer for a big man, making him an excellent fit for the triangle offense, and is shooting 53 percent in the postseason while averaging 17.7 points. Perkins made 61.5 percent of his shots in the regular season and had some strong games in the Eastern Conference finals, including an 18-point, 16-rebound performance in Game 5. Edge: Lakers.
ame 3 with strong performances in the last two games. Edge: Celtics.
SMALL FORWARD: Paul Pierce vs. Vladimir Radmanovic. Finally in the NBA finals in his 10th year with Boston, Pierce is set to face his hometown team. He has shown in the playoffs he can still be a potent scorer, notably in his 41-point effort to beat Cleveland in Game 7 of the second round, and has become an underrated defender. Radmanovic is a good perimeter shooter who doesn't do much else, and the Lakers need his jumper to be on to soften a Boston defense that held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the league. Edge: Celtics.
SHOOTING GUARD: Ray Allen vs. Kobe Bryant. Allen seemed to break out of his shooting slump in the final two games of the conference finals, averaging 23 points and going 8-of-14 from 3-point range. Bryant, a tenacious defender, will certainly welcome the challenge of trying to get that slump started again. And the league MVP has been at his best in the playoffs, averaging 31.9 points to lead all players in the postseason and shooting 52 percent. Edge: Lakers.
POINT GUARD: Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher. Fisher had a fairly quiet series in the conference finals, but his postseason experience, solid defense and courage to take big shots remain a comfort to the Lakers even when his shot isn't falling. Rondo's poor jumper was especially off late in the last round, when he shot 10-of-35 in the final three games. The Lakers will make him beat them from the outside. Edge: Lakers.
RESERVES: James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Eddie House, Leon Powe, Glen Davis and Tony Allen vs. Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf, DJ Mbenga and Trevor Ariza. Posey won a title with Miami two years ago and is a key contributor who will help defend Bryant, but tough to figure out what else to expect from Celtics' reserves. Minutes greatly fluctuated along with their production for most of them during the postseason. The Lakers counter with a much younger bench that tries to increase the tempo and energy when Bryant is resting. Edge: Lakers.
COACHES: Doc Rivers vs. Phil Jackson. Rivers did a great job molding all the Celtics' new pieces into a 66-win team. But he's appeared to lose confidence in some of his role players during the postseason, creating some inconsistent rotations. Jackson, the career leader in postseason victories, did one of his best coaching jobs this season on a team that started with the turmoil surrounding a possible Bryant trade and was never expected to be here. He seeks a 10th title, which would break Red Auerbach's record. Edge: Lakers.