Well, it’s that time. The NBA Finals start tonight in LA as the Celtics and the Lakers battle it out for the title. We all know the subplots, the Celtics are 9-2 against the Lakers in the Finals, Kendrick Perkins is a ‘T’ from having to sit out a game, Bynum is a quick move from being out of the series, Kobe is supposedly back to form and the Celtics defense is the best in the league. So what’s going to happen?
So with all of that said let’s look at the matchups and then I’ll give you my picks:
Kendrick Perkins vs. Andrew Bynum – I’ve been one that said that Bynum should have had that surgery a while ago, but then when you think about the surgeries that he’s had in the past, he never healed quickly. So with that said, he’s holding on by a thread. I expect him and Perkins to get in to it with each other. Bynum will find a way to pick up fouls at a Perkins rate too. Matchup – Even
Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol – This will be the matchup of the series. KG looked awful at times guarding Dwight Howard as he beat him off the dribble on that same move going to the lane. Gasol is just as quick, but Howard was able to jump over KG, and I’m not sure that Gasol can. At times, KG looked like the KG of old (see games 1-3 of the ECF) and others, he’s looked just old. I don’t think that you can change your mentality, your essence in a series. Matchup – Edge Celtics
Paul Pierce vs. Ron Artest – A few years ago, this would have been great to watch because Artest could play defense AND give you 20 points. Although that 20 point total might be closer to 13 or 15 now, Artest’s defense is going to be of the utmost importance. If Pierce didn’t know it yet, he should make sure that he has medical coverage and that his life insurance is paid up because Artest is going to maul him this series (see Kevin Durant, 1st Round vs. Lakers). Pierce likes to flail and fall a lot and may draw a few extra fouls on Artest, but he’s going to have to tough this one out. He is the Truth. Matchup – Edge Celtics
Ray Allen vs. Kobe Bryant – Well not much to say here, I love ‘Jesus’ (Ray Allen), but against Kobe, he’ll have his hands full on defense and offense. Kobe is the premier player in the league today, even with his many maladies. I expect Kobe to get his points, but the trick will be to make him a volume shooter. If he gets 30 and he takes 30 shots, you can almost live with that. Allen will get his points and may help tire out Kobe from running off of every pick from Boston to LA. Matchup – Edge Lakers
Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher – Most would say that Fish needs to sit this one out. He’s going against one of the quickest PGs in the game and he will have a problem staying in front of him. If they back off of Rondo and force him to shoot jumpers, which may be the best way to handle him. I imagine that you’ll see a lot of Jordan Farmer on Rondo too to try and match some of his quickness. Rondo will continue to run this Celtics team as long as his hammy/back hold up. Hopefully the rest has done him well too. Matchup – Edge Celtics
Celtics Bench vs. Lakers Bench – We know that the Celtics are going to need production from Rasheed Wallace, especially if they lose Perkins for a game or two for ‘T’s. I’m looking for another dusting off of Nate Robinson but the two people that will have an impact on this series will be Tony Allen and Sheldon Williams. I imagine that Williams will have to do some spot duty in this series for Perkins and how he plays will dictate whether the Celtics have to double up or play man. The Lakers are going to need contributions from Farmar and Odom off their bench. Farmar can’t be a turnover waiting to happen and Odom has to show everyone that he isn’t the Tin Man (ouch). I expect that you’ll get a heavy dose of Luke Walton this series which always seems to produce good outcomes for the Lakers. Matchup – Even
I think that unfortunately, Bynum’s knee doesn’t hold up. The Celtics defense is able to make life extremely hard for Kobe and in the end; I got the Celtics in 6.