June 4, 2010

NBA Finals Bench Players

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:34 am by dobrien001

Now let’s discuss the reserves for both Boston and LA? Which bench has the edge in this series?

Both teams have deep benches. Boston rotates in power players Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels,  G/F’s Tony Allen and Michael Finley, and a splash of Nate Robinson at the point.

Big Baby Davis has become a skilled forward who uses his size well for Boston. He’s got a fairly polished offensive game with a mid-range jumper. Look for him to defend Gasol and Odom at times. Gasol should take care of him, but Odom might be a more favorable match-up for Davis. Sheed will use his stellar post defense on Bynum and Gasol, and if his back stays healthy, could be a key ingredient in slowing down the Lakers’ attack. Allen’s defensive prowess has been alluded to in my shooting guard/small forward analysis of Bryant. He will be Kobe’s toughest test yet. And who knows how much of Nate Robinson we’ll see, but he could mix things up for sure.

LA’s best bench player is Lamar Odom, who is the best reserve in this series. Odom is ultra-versatile, and I don’t think that there’s one Celtic who can handle all of his attributes. If Lamar is in the flow of the offense, he’ll create things for the whole team and finish on the offensive glass. Farmar and Brown will be the bench players who are athletic enough to slow down Rondo somewhat. Powell and Walton will probably see sparing minutes; Walton might be a factor.

Edge goes to the Celtics just because they’re deeper.

June 3, 2010

Starting Centers: Perkins and Bynum

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:31 pm by dobrien001

Before we get to the bench, our final starters to cover are the centers. Both trees (Boston’s Kendrick Perkins and LA’s Andrew Bynum) have their shortcomings going into this series, but both play crucial roles for their squads.

Kendrick Perkins is a big, strong, athletic  who will body up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum throughout this series. He will be the most physical presence in the paint in this series. His rebounding and post defense are his most valuable assets for the Celtics, and he’ll have his hands full with all the bigs the Lakers have. Offensively, he’s not lighting things up, but Boston never really expects him to; they just want him to continue to get put-backs, be at the right place at the right time, and draw fouls from the opposition. Actually, when he puts his mind to hit, he is a very good back to the basket player with some strong post moves. He’s only averaging 25-30 minutes per game, as the Celts rotate in Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis in the post.

Perkins’ biggest challenge in this series is to avoid getting that 7th technical foul which would sit him down for the next game. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself in heated and controversial situations, and it will also be intriguing to watch how the Lakers try to bait him into losing his cool. Phil Jackson and the Lakers are surely going to try to get in his head and frustrate him throughout the series.

Andrew Bynum’s effectiveness in this series all hinges (literally) on his knee. If the MCL swelling is kept at bay, he can be a solid post man to complement Gasol and give the Lakers something they didn’t have in 2008. If the knee is acting up, it’ll hinder his lateral movement and overall agility on the court. Bynum is averaging just under 10 points this postseason. He gets most of his points from put-backs, dunks, and alley-oops. When Celtics come to double slashers who are driving to the hoop (such as Kobe, Odom, and Brown), Bynum has to be ready for the lob to make them pay. He’s been somewhat of a mystery player over his four years in the league, and he hasn’t turned into the dominant center that many hoped he would become. But Laker fans should not get distraught, ’cause he’s far better than Kwame Brown and most of the other 7-footers in the league. Sure, he’s not a world-beater, but he’ll contest shots, rebound, and clean up the mess on the offensive glass. He’s averaged 24 minutes per game, but he’ll probably see less than 20 per night because of the knee issues.

Boston’s Perkins has the edge however, due to his aggressiveness and willingness to do the dirty work for the Celtics.

What’s your take? Comment and let us know.

Small forwards/ shooting guards

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:42 pm by dobrien001

Instead of looking at each match-up for the 2 and 3 positions, we’ll go through each starter and discuss how they’ll do and who they’ll face.

First, it’s important to note that both premiere scorers for each team (Pierce and Bryant) will be facing their toughest defenders yet (Tony Allen and Ron Artest). As Tom Loony of Fox Sports Radio reminded us, “It’s not gonna be Vladimir Radmanovic who’s guarding Pierce this time around- it’ll be the pitbull, Ron Artest!”

First up: Kobe Bryant

Let’s skip the part where I talk about how great Kobe is, and focus on what MIGHT be able to slow Kobe down, aka Tony Allen. The Celtics’ defensive specialist is tall enough, strong enough, quick enough, and tenacious enough to give Kobe a run for his money. This doesn’t mean that Kobe won’t get his, but it might wear him down just a little bit which could open things up on the offensive end for Boston. Kobe’s drives to the hoop won’t be as easy against the Boston front line, but he’s spectacular so he’ll make things happen. Look for him to guard Ray Allen, Pierce, and Rondo at different times, and guard them well because he’s a focused defender.

Ron Artest: The Lakers will release their pit-bull on Paul Pierce, and what a match-up it will be. Artest is an intense, physical, smart defender who will body up Pierce. Analysts have said Pierce may use Artest’s physicality against him, so we’ll see how this plays out. Offensively, Artest is a solid three-point shooter, and averaged 14 ppg against the Magic. The Lakers will want him to average double-digits in points and knock down open threes when Kobe gets doubled.

Paul Pierce: Pierce certainly isn’t the most athletic or explosive player, but he is versatile and finds ways to score. His ability to create off the dribble and knock down tough shots often bails the Celtics out when they’re in a rut. He’s also one of the best players in the league at drawing fouls; in his last three games alone he has taken 33 free throws, and made 29 of them! Defensively, Pierce will get a healthy dose of Artest and Kobe, and do a serviceable job at guarding them because he is adept at positioning. In the paint he’s more of a liability due to his lack of hops.

Ray Allen: Allen will be a tough cover for the Lakers, and although his scoring numbers fluctuate, he’s always a deep-ball threat who stretches the defense. The Celts will need his quick-release sniper shooting in the clutch if they’re going to answer some of Kobe’s magic. Allen is a good all-around player and a veteran who is always cool and collected. He’s been averaging around 40 minutes per game, so Doc Rivers is giving him the burn and relying on him to knock down shots. I wouldn’t call Allen a great defender, and he’s not the most explosive or agile player. What he can focus on doing is wearing down the Lakers by working to get open for big shots.

The edge goes to the Lakers because of the Black Mamba

June 2, 2010

Finals match-ups: starting power forwards

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:58 am by dobrien001

Welcome to part two of our NBA Finals match-up discussion. Feel free to join in the discussion on who has the edge in the starting power forward position.

Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett

A few years ago no one would give a thought to this, back when Garnett was one of the most dominant players in the game. Things have changed and this match-up will have a different dynamic than it did even in 2008. We don’t know how much time these two will spend guarding each other this series, but they did quite a bit two years ago.

Garnett has a solid offensive game. His scoring numbers have fluctuated greatly throughout these playoffs, but the Lakers know his jumper is reliable. He’s got a soft shooting touch and his turnaround shot is nearly impossible to defend. But with father time and injuries catching up to him over the past couple years, he has lost a step. This has definitely affected his explosiveness and aggressiveness with his drives to the hoop. It will be a bit easier for Gasol/Odom/Bynum to guard him. Garnett is still an effective rebounder (8 per), shot-blocker, and defender, but not what he used to be. If he was stronger he would dominate this pairing, but he’s not. The conference finals were by far his worst series so far (Howard ate him up), but I like his chances much more against Gasol or Bynum than Howard.

Pau Gasol has improved each year since being on the Lakers, and has been lauded several times as being probably the “best post-player in the game.” What Gasol lacks in speed, agility, and power, he makes up for with tenacity, court-awareness, and polished fundamentals and footwork. His player-efficiency rating for the playoffs is nearly 10 points better than Garnett’s, and a few numbers jump out: he’s averaging 20 points, 10 boards,  and about 4 offensive boards per game. Not a bad sidekick for Kobe to have! He’s much more assertive in the offense this year, punishes weaker defenders, and gets to the free-throw line considerably more than Garnett. Gasol’s passing has been outstanding for a big man, and his improved chemistry is evident every game. Pau isn’t the best defender, and often gets handled by more athletic forwards- but he keeps himself in the game with good footwork and willingness to rebound. Most importantly, Kobe is more confident in him and he is more confident in himself than ever before.

Gasol has the edge in this pairing; his improvement over the past couple years will be a big reason why this series will be markedly different than the last.

May 31, 2010

NBA Finals match-ups: Starting Point Guards

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:41 am by dobrien001

Welcome to the first of our NBA finals match-up discussions; the first position we’re gonna tackle is point guard. Let’s take a look at Derek Fisher and Rajon Rondo. Give your opinion and be able to back it up!

Obviously these are two very different guards who play with different styles and are at different points in their careers. How will they face off against one another?

Neither made a big splash in their 2008 NBA Finals match-up, and the two teams are a bit different this time around. What is probably more telling is how they played in their meetings this year, as well as their current playoff performances.

Rondo is much more of a scoring threat and a playmaker this spring than he was two years ago. He is much more assertive in the team’s offensive sets, and has an array of ankle-breaking moves that keep any defender on his heels. He’s been filling the hoop lately;  he scored 21 and 14 in his two games vs LA in January and February, and is averaging 16.7 points and a 47% from the field in the postseason.  Rondo is also an improved team leader on both ends of the floor. Most impressive is that he is dropping 10 dimes a game.

Much depends on whether his back injury is still bothering him come game 1. Look for him to use his explosiveness and athleticism against Fisher, and to make things happen in transition where he has the clear advantage. In all, Rondo has taken his game to another level this spring and is a force to be reckoned with.

Fisher, while being outscored by Rondo in their two showdowns this year, is no pushover by any means. In fact, Fish is averaging more than 11 points per, and in 33 minutes per contest he is making less than 2 turnovers per game. The guy makes clutch shots, is mentally tough, and is a solid defender. Look for him to use his strength against Rondo (Rondo is giving up 35 pounds in this match-up). He’s also a far superior three-point shooter than Rajon, and will help stretch the defense with his deep-ball threat.

Rondo gets the slight edge in this pairing, but both have unique qualities that they bring to the table for their teams. It’s the war-hardened vet against the best PG in the east. Let me know what you think? Have a take, and back it up!