What you should expect from this year’s NBA Finals

The NBA Finals [v.2009-2010] tip off this evening in Los Angeles.

                       

LEGITIMATE CONTENDERS IN THE NBA PLAYOFFS

[as of Thursday April 15, 2010]

 

TEAM

W

L

W%

EAST

WEST

PDR

PAR

RDR

QR

QIR

Celtics

50

32

.610

4

 

9

5

25

39

12

Lakers

57

25

.695

 

1

6

9

7

22

6

LEGEND: W – Wins; L – Losses; Win% – Winning Percentage; PDR – Points Differential Ranking; PAR – Points Allowed Ranking; RDR – Rebounding Differential Ranking; QR – Quality Rating [i.e. PDR + PAR + RDR = QR]; QIR – Quality Index Ranking [i.e. QR/#1-16].

While Rounds 1, 2 and 3 have produced some fair-to-good basketball, this version of the Finals should prove to be an entirely different kettle of fish.

 

NBA PLAYOFFS
4th Round [FINALS] MATCH-UP

 

Celtics

50

32

.610

4

 

9

5

25

39

12

Lakers

57

25

.695

 

1

6

9

7

22

6

STARTERS

Rajon Rondo

Ray Allen

Paul Pierce

Kevin Garnett

Kendrick Perkins

ß

à

=

=

=

Derek Fisher

Kobe Bryant

Ron Artest

Pau Gasol

Andrew Bynum

+1

Sub-Total

+1

KEY SUBS

Tony Allen

Glen Davis

Rasheed Wallace

=

=

à

Shannon Brown

Josh Powell

Lamar Odom

0

Sub-Total

+1

OTHERS

Nate Robinson

Michael Finley

Marquis Daniels

Shelden Williams

=

=

=

=

Jordan Farmar

Sasha Vujacic

Luke Walton

DJ Mbenga

COACHING

Doc Rivers

à

Phil Jackson

0

Sub-Total

0

+1

TOTAL

+2

Analysis: If Kevin Garnett was 100% healthy and fully recovered from his knee injury of last season, then, the Celtics might actually be the correct pick in this match-up. Although he seems to be regaining some of his former vertical explosiveness and a good deal of his horizontal speed, his lateral quickness and agility are still not back to what they were 2 seasons ago, when he was one of the best defensive players in the history of the NBA.

 

Conversely, when the Lakers are relatively healthy – which they haven’t been for much of this season – they are simply the best team in the NBA this year. Although the Celtics’ Starting 5 is formidable, the Lakers should be able to withstand the initial on-slaught … if they use their bench players properly … and, then, gradually wear Boston down over the course of a physically grueling series.

 

Shortening Boston’s rotation should not produce an advantage for the Celtics against this opponent.

 

Pick: LOS ANGELES has the home court advantage this time and should win in 6 [or, perhaps, 7] games.

 

[Caveat: If Phil Jackson should happen to get out-coached – e.g. refusing to use Josh Powell vs Glen Davis – by Doc Rivers, then, the Celtics could well capitalize and win this series.] 

These 2 teams are quite evenly matched.

The Lakers, however, signed Ron Artest last summer for one reason only.

i.e. To have him defend either LeBron James or Paul Pierce in the NBA Finals. 

If Ron Ron does his job properly, from a physical standpoint, and can play Da Truth to a virtual stand-off, then … all else being equal … the Lakers will be hoisting another championship banner to the rafters when the 2010-2011 kicks off in the fall.

It really is as simple as that.

Enjoy what should be a real hum-dinger of a series!

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11 Responses to “What you should expect from this year’s NBA Finals”

  1. Ragu Says:

    I grew a Laker fan in the 80′s w/ Magic vs Bird, and I am enjoying this Finals.

  2. Scott G Says:

    The KG-Pau matchup is totally different from how it looked 2 seasons ago… nice analysis all-around.

  3. khandor Says:

    Ragu,

    Something that I’ve discovered about myself, as I’ve grown older, is that I am really and truly not a “fan” of specific pro sports organizations.

    What I am, however, is a “fan” of [A] specific people … within the realm of athletics … given the individual traits they’ve displayed in the way they chosen to live their life … and, [B] The Pursuit of Excellence, in general.

    e.g. Bill Russell, Muhammed Ali, Lou Gehrig, Arthur Ashe, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus, Walter Peyton, Al McGuire, Jean Beliveau, Abebe Bikila, Vasily Alexiev, Bobby Orr, Edwin Moses, Bjorn Borg, etc.

    That said, in all likelihood, given the circumstances of my own life, I will be a “fan” of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Argonauts, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Raptors for the remainder of my lifetime.

    PS. I enjoy any NBA Finals that is well played between two fantastic teams.

  4. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    1. Thanks for the compliment. :-)

    2. If KG had been 100% healthy … then, I would have selected the Celtics to beat both the Cavaliers and then the Magic.

    Without a 100% healthy Big Ticket, however, the Lakers – with Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum in the line-up – are simply a better team than the Celtics.

    IMO, the primary reason Boston has beaten Cleveland and then Orlando was because Mike Brown and Stan Van Gundy were horribly out-coached by Doc Rivers.

    There are all sorts of people in the world of sports who will try to put down the work of Doc Rivers since he’s arrived in Boston but, IMO, those who really do know what they’re doing … at least, when it comes to winning championships … can see clearly that this man is one of the very best coaches in the game today, and very much responsible for the on-court success which the C’s have had for the last 3 seasons.

    e.g. Boston Celtics Legend Asks Doc Rivers to Stay

    That said …

    If Kevin Garnett cannot physically dominate Pau Gasol … like he did 2 years ago, when Bynum was injured … and Paul Pierce cannot physically dominate Ron Artest … like he did 2 years ago, when Trevor Ariza was injured … then, unfortunately for Boston, Doc Rivers is the equivalent of an “old-school gunslinger stepping into the fray with empty chambers in his revolver.”

    Eventually, he is going to get nailed with a fatal bullet from his worthy adversary, regardless of the guile he displays in battle.

  5. Scott G Says:

    Nice job of identifying Big Baby as a potential difference-maker in this series. Last night Odom’s inability to match up with him was on prime display once Bynum’s injury prevented him from playing heavy minutes. Baby is such a tough matchup for finesse 4′s because of his combination of quick feet and brutal physicality, notwithstanding his relatively short stature.

    I have to say, though, I was less than impressed by Baby’s attitude once he finally got pulled late in the 4th last night. He (a) looked like he was about to cry and (b) barely cheered for his teammates. Strange stuff from a guy that plays with such passion when he’s on the floor…

  6. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    Now that Doc Rivers has figured out that a key to beating this group of Lakers lies in the match-up of Rasheed Wallace vs Pau Gasol … if not full-time, then, at least, for major minutes within each game … and Glen Davis vs Lamar Odom, the onus will be on PJ to counter correctly, i.e. by using Odom vs Wallace and Powell vs Davis [with the Gasol vs Garnett and Bynum vs Perkins match-ups in tact].

    If PJ either:

    a. Refuses to ggive Josh Powell these minutes; or,
    b. Fails to recognize that THIS is actually the correct solution to the problem Doc Rivers has created for the Lakers;

    then, there is now at least a decent chance for Boston to push this series to 7 games, if not not win it outright.

    PJ is the winningest head coach in the history of the NBA … but, this does not mean that he is infallible or still not prone to a stubborn streak that can sometimes cost his teams playoff series victories.

    ——————————————————–

    PS. The line-up which the Lakers used before bringing Derek Fisher back into the game last in the 4th quarter:

    PG, Bryant
    OG, Vujacic
    SF, Artest
    PF, Odom
    C, Gasol

    would have been a “winner”, if only PJ would have worked the defensive match-ups properly, i.e.

    Bryant [not Vujacic] vs Rondo
    Vujacic [not Bryant] vs Allen
    Odom [not Artest] vs Tony Allen
    Artest [not Odom] vs Davis
    Gasol vs Wallace

    Despite getting paid millions of dollars to coach the best players in the world, NBA make more than their fare share of match-up miscues that end up costing their team games. :-(

    =========================

    re: Glen Davis’ long face when finally removed from the game in the 4th

    :-(

    re: Glen Davis’ happier face when he was then sent back to the table to sub back in the game

    :-(

    There is a good reason Glen was christened with the name ‘Big Baby’, in the first place. :-)

  7. Scott G Says:

    Agree re Sheed-Pau — Sheed has really proven to be a tough matchup for Pau because of his superior length and quickness (compared to Perk). I have to say, I’m not entirely sure why he’s been at least as (if not more) effective as KG against Pau — any thoughts?

  8. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    IMO, Kevin Garnett is trying his best to cope with 2 separate injuries at the moment.

    1. The lingering effects of his knee injury, and subsequent rehabilitation, from last year;

    and,

    2. A recent [in Game 2 is when I first took note of it] and relatively minor injury to his left shoulder which has not been made public … yet.

    This 2nd injury is the main reason he is perpetually reaching for rebounds with only his right hand/arm extended and no longer shooting his mid-range jumper with his usual level of accuracy.

    i. KG, at 100%, is a better basketball player than Pau Gasol.

    ii. Pau Gasol is a better basketball player, however, when KG is less than 100%.

    iii. KG + Rasheed Wallace, in combination, can be a better basketball player than Pau Gasol Gasol.

    iv. Pau Gasol + Lamar Odom AND Andrew Bynum, at less-than 100% + Josh Powell

    is a better quartet than

    KG, at less-than 100% + Wallace AND Kendrick Perkins + Glen Davis.

    BUT …

    v. KG, at less-than 100% + Wallace AND Kendrick Perkins + Glen Davis

    is still a better quartet than the combination of

    Pau Gasol + Lamar Odom + Andrew Bynum, at less-than 100%.

    Basketball, played [and coached] at its highest level, is a game of match-ups. :-)

  9. Scott G Says:

    Ha — you’re really deconstructing the puzzle now!

    I think you’re right — KG seems to have been grabbing at his shoulder continually for a couple games now. It’s really such a close matchup between these teams that the slightest chink in the armour makes all the difference in the world.

    How about the formulation we all wish existed: KG (100%) + Perk + Sheed + Baby vs Pau + Bynum (100%) + Odom + Powell? I say the Lakers have the edge here by a fair margin, largely because they have 2 real studs.

    It’s interesting to see how, while Perk was the key to the prior series in terms of being able to handle DH-12 one on one, he’s been largely a non-factor in this series because of his size disadvantage (which is amplified by Bynum’s fine touch around the hoop) and lack of utility on offense. Like you said… playoff time = matchups.

  10. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    re: the ideal/preferred match-ups at the PF & C spots

    Agreed.

    What was evident in Game 4 is just how much the Lakers need a positive contribution from Andrew Bynum in order to beat this version of the Celtics.

    ——————————

    That said …

    If Bynum is now injured to the point that he cannot make a positive contribution anymore, then, the Lakers can still win the series outright, if Phil Jackson was to just:

    i. Trust Josh Powell a little more;

    and, then,

    ii. Go small … by using all 10 of his remaining best players

    i.e. Fisher, Farmar, Brown, Bryant, Vujacic, Artest, Walton, Odom, Powell [C] and Gasol [C]

    in a high octane, full-out, offensive assault.

    If the Lakers do not have Andrew Bynum, they will eventually lose this series if they try to slow the game down and bang with the Celtics in the half-court, while using only Gasol, Odom and DJ Mbenga.

  11. World Wide News Flash Says:

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