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Without question, this is the most important match up in the contest for the Lakers.
For once, the Lakers face an elite team without having to worry about Derek Fisher being over-matched, Kobe vs. Dwyane is about as close to a push as the league has to offer between players of their caliber, LeBron is going to win his match up with Artest no matter what and Bynum serves as the X-Factor.
The Lakers’ bench is clearly more talented, yet terribly inconsistent of late and they may or may not rise to the occasion.
There are just too many “definites” in Miami’s favor for the Lakers not to swing as many things as they can in their own.
The good news for the Lakers is that Gasol is more likely to win the match-up than his counterpart given that he’s established himself as a much better defender and rebounder than Bosh and currently averages 11 rebounds to Bosh’s eight and two blocks to Bosh’s .7.
After Gasol established himself as an early MVP candidate in the beginning of the season, he trailed off noticeably, but that can be mostly attributed to the fatigue he suffered as a result of the Lakers’ lack of depth with Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff injured.
With Bynum back in the fold, Gasol has re-emerged as the best power forward in the West and the second best in the game behind Amar’e Stoudemire.
Though the offensive skill sets and physical builds of Gasol and Bosh are similar in some respects and near identical in others, Gasol showed more of a killer instinct and a rougher edge in the 2010 Finals than we’ve ever seen from Bosh.
Having said all this, there is little question that Bosh will be the most formidable match up Gasol has been faced with this season.
Bosh has struggled against physical, lengthy front courts all year long up until this point and seemed to be heavily bothered by the Celtics’ defensive pressure and averaged just 11.5 points against them in their two match ups.
Garnett bothered Bosh by contesting almost every shot he put up and the packed, physical paint of the Celtics smothered Bosh on the boards as well. Though he pulled down 15 combined rebounds in the two games, one would hardly have considered him a factor on the glass in either of those games.
If the Lakers' front court can mirror the pressure the Celtics put on Bosh, it’ll go a long way to securing a W.