A Position-By-Position Breakdown of the NBA Finals

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A Position-By-Position Breakdown of the NBA Finals
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The 2008 NBA Playoffs came down to the very same finale.

The veteran-laden Boston Celtics taking on the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers to determine the NBA Champion. The Celtics took down the Lakers in six games, winning it all on their home floor.

The cast is almost identical. Boston will start the same five it did in the '08 series and Glen Davis is still the main bench contributor. Los Angeles has added Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum to their Finals squad, but that is the only significant difference (unless Ronny Turiaf is significant).

Both teams have experienced coaches in Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson.

It appears to play out as a competitive series, but who knows with the way this postseason has gone. Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the NBA Finals, which starts on Thursday night.

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo (BOS) vs. Derek Fisher (LA)

This match-up is very close. Both players have won NBA titles as the starting point guard. Fisher, 35, is the veteran of the two. He turns the ball over less than Rondo, but his offense is inferior. He can be a streaky shooter, but always seems to come up big in the clutch.

Rondo led the NBA in steals during the regular season, and is not stopping that trend during the Playoffs. During the Playoffs, he averages 16.7 ppg and 10 apg for a double-double. His ability to do everything makes him a large threat. One of the keys to winning the series for LA is to stop Rondo.

Advantage: Boston

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen (BOS) vs. Kobe Bryant (LA)

Ray Allen can prove himself to be the most valuable member of the Celtics. His shooting alone has won games for the C's. In the Playoffs, he is shooting 42.3 percent on three pointers and averaging 16.8 ppg. His defense is nothing special and he may have lost a step in the past year which will hurt him trying to guard Bryant.

As for Kobe, what is there to say? His scouting report is all over B/R, and by no means is talking about him my forte. But I will say this: He is the best clutch player since Michael Jordan. When he needs to step it up, he does. Along with his unstoppable scoring prowess, hustle, intensity, and scrappy defense, it makes him hard to stop. It's hard to go against a great guy in Allen, but it's even more difficult to go against Bryant, who gets the advantage.

Advantage: Los Angeles

Small Forward: Paul Pierce (BOS) vs. Ron Artest (LA)

Both of these men are experienced, fierce competitors. After a dismal series against Cleveland, Pierce got hot, averaging over 24 ppg against Orlando. His rebounding also shot up to over eight boards per game. If there was a Conference Finals MVP, he would have won the award. Pierce seems to pick up his play when his team needs him the most. He has to avoid foul trouble in order to be effective.

Ron Artest made the signature play of the Playoffs with his buzzer beater tip-in to win Game Five against Phoenix. That play went to show his hustle and tenacity, which show up on both ends of the floor. The next night out, he finally broke through with 25 points on 10 for 16 shooting. His defense is undoubtedly stellar. The Celtics have many offensive weapons, but his guarding of Pierce is one of the keys.

While Pierce has the nod on the offensive side, Artest is a stifling defender.

Advantage: Even

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett (BOS) vs. Pau Gasol (LA)

Just add this one to the list of interesting duels. The game inside the game is always a key in any sport when determining a winner. In this series, the player who wins the battle on the block may be victorious.

Garnett's production dropped off against Orlando, averaging only 10 ppg. His offense seems to be dwindling as the years pass. Some say his defense is no longer as tough, but he still holds his own on that side of the ball. Garnett is the fiery leader of the Celtics, which can be good and bad. When he is hot, it seems to rub off on his teammates and good things happen.

Pau Gasol has quietly been Kobe's right hand man for over two years. The seven-foot Spaniard has dominated each of his opponents in this postseason, scoring 20 per game. As if that isn't good enough, he is averaging a double-double with 10.9 rebounds. Add to this nearly two blocks per game and no foul trouble. When he is on the floor, the Lakers definitively have the advantage.

While Garnett is still one of the game's best, Pau may just be the best at his position.

Advantage: Los Angeles

Center: Kendrick Perkins (BOS) vs. Andrew Bynum (LA)

Perkins's main job in this series will be stopping Bynum. He did it against Miami, and Shaq, and Dwight. He averages more rebounds than points per game, which shows his focus. It's good to have a player who understands his role and doesn't try to do too much. Perkins' offensive production has decreased in the Playoffs, but don't look too much into that. He is playing phenomenal defense.

When the Lakers find Andrew Bynum, they win. It's actually pretty simple. He totaled 14 points in the team's two losses to Phoenix. While the Lakers have weapons without him, when he scores, they become unstoppable. Sometimes it seems like Bynum is not even there. His defense can be lacking at times.

Because of his offensive game, Bynum gets the slight nod. And I mean slight nod.

Advantage: Los Angeles

Bench Players: Rasheed Wallace, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen (BOS) vs. Lamar Odom, Josh Powell, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton (LA)

The Celtics get more production more often from Wallace, Robinson, and Davis. The three combine for around 18 points per game, often more. Wallace is a very streaky shooter, Robinson is a question mark, and Davis will usually give you what you expect. At least two of them need to produce each game in order for the Celtics to pull off a victory.

Lamar Odom can match the Celtics' bench production single-handedly. In Game One against the Suns, he scored 19 points and had 19 rebounds, seven offensive. And this was against Amar'e Stoudamire. He is the consensus top bench player in the series. But as for the rest of the bench, there is not much to get very excited about. Brown may score 10 points once or twice, but he is far too inconsistent in order to be productive.

Advantage: Even

Coaching: Doc Rivers (BOS) vs. Phil Jackson (LA)

There have been numerous articles written on who is the better coach. But there is no denying the ten titles won by Jackson. When he wins the first two games, his team is undefeated. I'm pretty sure it's the same for Game One, but I cannot find a stat that proves that. With this said, the edge goes to the Lakers.

Advantage: Los Angeles

 

 

 

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