The basic question surrounding the NBA Finals could be “Who will defend Kobe?” It could be “Will Paul Pierce be the one who dominates?” Or, it could be “Will the inexplicable coaching decisions that Doc Rivers makes catch up with him against Phil Jackson?” All of those are pretty good ones. Others receiving votes:
- How will Rajon Rondo handle playing a point guard like Derek Fisher?
- What Ray Allen will we see?
- Whose bench will be better in the series?
- Will KG or Gasol be the first to establish something resembling a traditional post game?
- What version of Lamar Odom will show up?
Note how I exempted the whole “winning on the road” question. I’m pretty sure the Lakers could steal a game in Boston; I don’t know about the Celtics doing so in Staples. Here’s the big, big question — how are the Lakers going to expose the Celtics’ defense, and vice versa? The easy answer for Los Angeles is “Kobe” and the one for the Celtics involves getting Paul Pierce going. However, here’s the problem that Boston is going to face: they are going to have to have James Posey out on the floor regularly to replace Ray Allen’s defensive gaps.
I think the Celtics will put Pierce on Bryant, KG will take Gasol, Rondo plays Fish, Perkins gets to play Odom — and Phil Jackson has ot pick someone to make Allen a liability. If Rivers keeps him on Kobe, he’s dumb as a rock. On the ohter end, the Lakers’ team defense has been just as tough as the Celtics in this playoff season, clamping down on San Antonio in second halves and sweeping Denver out. The Lake Show’s defensive vulnerability comes with big guards and big post play.
Boston doesn’t really have an advantage in either. I have to err on the side of the team with better talent, coaching, and a better set bench rotation. Lakers in six.