The Los Angeles Lakers are starting their matchups with these : Derek Fisher on Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant on Ray Allen, Vladimir Radmanovic on Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom on Kendrick Perkins, and Pau Gasol on Kevin Garnett. But wait, these are just temporary matchups, and this won’t stay too long, maybe after Game 1 is over.
I’m saying this because I know who’s guarding who before Game 2 starts. And you probably know that, too.
I’m gonna give you the following matchups for the rest of the series:
Derek Fisher on Rajon Rondo : This will be a fight between two different directions, north and south, experience versus speed. We all know what happened with Tony Parker in the Lakers-Spurs series, they tried to trap him by putting a big man on him. But that’s not the case for the young Celtic point guard. I think Phil Jackson would give him the Kenyon Martin treatment. He would make Rondo be a scorer, not a playmaker. Rondo would see more open shots than any other starting five in the Boston Celtics. So, whatever happens, made or missed, we will live with it.
Kobe Bryant on Paul Pierce : This would be a very exciting matchup, showcasing two of the best wing defenders in the league today. I do know that Doc Rivers would try to double-team Mr. MVP, but he’s not gonna use it too often. Putting Kobe Bryant on “The Truth” is a good idea. These two are close friends, but not when playing on the court. Now is the time we will see how The Black Mamba plays lockdown D. One thing we all know is that, Paul Pierce is a jump-shooter, not that much of a “straight-to-the-rim” superstar. Another thing is that, Paul Pierce, is the tone-setter of the Boston Celtics offense. If Kobe makes him as quiet as a mouse in the first quarter, then the Lakers have a good chance of winning the rest.
Vladimir Radmanovic on Ray Allen : The Space Cadet wouldn’t have as much problem as he had on Ginobili than Allen. Ray Allen isn’t as quick as he used to be, but he still carries that deadly dagger on his hand. Leaving him open isn’t a good idea, so try to stay up on him and put a hand when he shoots. That’s the best way VladRad can do (as much as I would want to stress physicality, but err…).
Lamar Odom on Kendrick Perkins : This is a good battle between two underrated, hardworking players today. Kendrick Perkins had one of his finest game in the regular season versus the Lakers, and Lamar Odom remembers that. Perkins is an aggressive guy, and we don’t want to see Odom getting into foul trouble early in the game. I would want Lamar to be as physical as he can because we know that Perkins is an emotional guy, but not to the point where he would foul him every time he touches the ball. Anyways, as long as LO keeps Perkins off the board , where he does much of his damage, then LO gets the advantage here.
Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom/VladRad on Kevin Garnett : No, this is not triple-teaming The Big Ticket, this is putting different faces on him, as the Lakers did to the Spurs’ Tim Duncan. Putting different defenders on Kevin Garnett will make him stay out of his rhythm and not be too comfortable in the post.
What the Lakers need to do though is applying the double-team without committing on the defender. This is what I’ve been angry on dating back to Game 5 of the Lakers-Spurs WCF Series. LA was double-teaming Tim Duncan and most of the times the second defender committed too much on Duncan, therefore leaving a 3-pt shooter open. This must not be the case in this series, because Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are way, way better 3-pt shooters than Michael Finley, Brent Barry, Robert Horry, and Manu Ginobili.
The Bench Factor :
Sasha Vujacic on Ray Allen : The Machine and The Space Cadet have been taking turns on guarding Ginobili, and this time, they will be taking turns on guarding Ray Allen. So far, Ray Allen has been struggling in the whole playoffs. But take note, Ray Allen has found his shooting touch the last 2 games (maybe it’s because he wore the long arm band that Kobe wears), so resting on him is not a good idea.
Trevor Ariza on Paul Pierce : We will see more playing time from him in this series than he did in the WCF Series. Trevor Ariza will be guarding Paul Pierce when Kobe is on the bench. We all know that Ariza is a great defender, but we also need to know that he just came from a serious injury, so Pierce may be exploiting Ariza’s speed. But, if Trevor plays like he did before he injured his foot, then we have no problem with this matchup.
These are the Key Matchups that will play a BIG role in the whole series for the Lakers. I expect a great fight, and I expect to see the Lakers win it in either 5 or 6 games. Let’s just hope that I’m right.