Opening Night Position Battles (Celtics @ Cavs)
After pretty much beating down every possible question anyone could possibly have about the 2009-2010 Boston Celtics it is almost time to begin the quest towards the 18th banner. As I write this there are roughly about 4 days 5 hours and 30 minutes until the opening tip-off of the regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Today I thought I would take some time to look at the individual match ups against the team we are opening with, and possibly the team will have to beat to return to the NBA Finals.
Mo is an above average guard in the NBA, he has a different style of playing the point, compared to Rondo. He is more of a shoot first guard, he has good handles, but lacks the floor control that Rondo has. Mo is a very good shooter from long range and has the capability of hitting a big shot at any moment. He has said before that he is committed on the defensive end, but does he have the capability to keep up with the quickness of Rondo? Rondo has transformed himself into a top five guard in the league over the years. Working with the Big Three and Doc Rivers he has turned into what I like to call a true point guard. Unlike Mo, he is not a shoot first point guard, he is always looking for a way to distribute the ball to the true scorers on the team. As long as he shows up to play on Tuesday I have to give the advantage to Rondo.
This matchup was one of the clear no brainers in all of the matchups presented for opening night. In Ray Allen you have a All-star guard who is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, shooter of all time. If it is crunch time, this guy is not someone you want on the floor if your the opponent. Nothing against Anthony Parker, he is a player coming into shape, but matched up against Ray he stands no chance. He is better known for being the brother of WNBA star, Candace Parker, who is also the wife of Celtics forward Shelden Williams.
The clear advantage in this matchup goes to Jesus Shuttlesworth aka Sugar Ray aka Ray Allen
At small forward we have two of the greatest NBA players to ever step on the floor. Without question they are both future hall of famers. Lebron James is the clear leader of the Cavaliers, and at any point in a game he can throw the rest of the team on his shoulders. Many people believe he will go on to surpass MJ as the greatest player of all-time. While his outside shot is still not great, his ability to muscle his way to the hoop and finish is unreal. Paul Pierce is also no slouch, NBA finals MVP two years ago, team captain, and an extraordinary basketball player. Whether it was the championship season, or a season the Celtics did not make the playoffs, he has come up big in so many games. He definetly will go down as one of the top five Celtics of all time. With all that aside I hate to go against my favorite player of all time, Paul Pierce, but I have to give Lebron the advantage in this matchup.
This matchup was the other clear no brainer for me to choose. This is kind of like David vs. Goliath. In Kevin Garnett you have one of the top players of this decade on both sides of the floor. In Varejao you have a former bench player, recently turned starter, who is not very strong inside and lacks the offensive skill to beat a defender like KG. Ball Don't Lie recently rated KG as the second best player of the decade, Verajao probably wouldn't even make the top 200. Clear advantage to the Big Ticket.
This was the toughest matchup to determine out of all of them. These two guys are pretty much mirror images of each other. Many people including myself thought that Shaq was washed up, that he no longer had it and was no longer a force in the paint. In the preseason game Wednesday night he proved us wrong. The Big Diesel still has it. I think that Shaq still has the ability to put up fifteen to twenty points a night and can limit Perkins on the defensive end. Like I have told other people before if Perkins can start hitting that 15 foot jumper consistently his game will improve dramatically. Putting my Celtics bias to the side, until Shaq proves he no longer has it, I have to give the advantage to The Big Diesel.
Cavs Main Bench Players: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamario Moon, Daniel Gibson, J.J Hickson
Celtics Main Bench Players: Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Eddie House, Glen Davis
I have said before that I think this Celtics bench may be the best bench in the history of the NBA. I validated this point by going to the open practice and watching the second unit play the starters evenly. The Cavs bench are also no slouch. They have two players that could probably start on many teams in the NBA, Big Z and Jamario Moon. Unfortunately for the Cavs this bench just does not cut it against the Celtics. On the bench we have 3 guys who have started multiple NBA games in their careers, and an All-star center Rasheed Wallace.
Overall Advantage: Celtics
Trying to put my Celtics bias to the side I still think that the Celtics have the better starting line up. In the two matchups, KG vs. Varejao and Ray vs. Parker, the Celtics have huge advantages. The two matchups that favor the Cavs are very close matchups compared to those that favor the Celtics. Add the advantage that our bench brings us, and this is why I believe the Celtics have the overall advantage come Tuesday night.
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