Its hard to imagine that the Celtics will have as much success guarding Kobe as they did last time when they held him to 25 points per game on meager 40 percent shooting, especially considering that James Posey isn’t even in the playoffs, but the Lakers will still going to need to alleviate Bryant’s workload as much as possible.
For that to happen, Bryant will need to be able to defer to more than just Pau Gasol. Lamar Odom has to get going and stay that way.
It's just that simple.
Besides, its not like there’s anyone else.
Andrew Bynum has been rendered ineffective by his knee injury majority of the post-season and its not likely that he’s in for a breakout series against the best defensive team he’s come across this season, maybe ever.
Most of Ron Artest’s role in this series will be defending Pierce, which we’ll get back to, but after him, there’s no one else.
The responsibility for serving as the jab to augment the Bryant/Gasol 1-2 punch falls solely on Odom’s shoulders and he’ll need to crash the boards and score the ball with far greater consistency than he had in the 2008 Finals, or even the playoffs’ previous round.
Game One of the Western Conference Finals saw Lamar Odom pour in a 19-point, 19-rebound effort that empowered the Lakers to a not-as-close-as-it-seemed win over the Phoenix Suns.
Since then, both Odom’s rebounding and scoring saw mountain highs and valley lows as Odom scored 17 points in Game Two and Five (Game Five also saw him pull in 13 rebounds, his second highest total of the series) but Odom scored only six points on 12 attempts in game six and he pulled in only six rebounds in game three.
The Lakers will need far more consistency from him to defeat the Celtics.
The Celtics are by far the most menacing, imposing, physical team they’ve faced since, well, last time and if other teams have realized how heavily the Lakers rely on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the fourth quarter and adjusted their defensive scheme, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize what the Celtics are going to do.
If Odom can provide solid defense on Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace score in the low teens and consistently rack up double digit rebounds, he’ll have done everything the Lakers can ask.
Likelihood: 60/40 Advantage Lakers
Lamar Odom probably won’t be the wrecking ball 6th man in every game this series, every player has weaknesses—Odom’s just happens to be consistency.
Still, if he can give the Lakers his best in three or more games out of the series, that could easily translate into three or more wins.