Boston Celtics Key Members
Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Kendrick Perkins
Los Angeles Lakers Key Members
Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, Luke Walton
The beauty of the bench battle is that both sixth men, Glen Davis and Lamar Odom, will cover one another at some point during the game, showcasing the talents of each team’s second unit. Both players are playing far better than last season, which only heightens this matchup.
Bench play will come down to specific attributes and intangibles. How will Davis fare taking charges and grabbing offensive rebounds? How will Odom create mismatches with his ball-handling and ability to draw defenders out of the paint?
For Davis, he needs to draw fouls and disrupt the Lakers' interior plans. With Kevin Garnett’s lack of an interior presence since returning from injury, the need for Big Baby to clog up the paint is imperative. The same holds true on the offensive end, as Davis needs to chip in second-chance points if the outside shooting of the Celtics breaks down.
That said, if Odom can draw Davis and Garnett away from the ball, the Lakers will be able to secure second-chance points of their own via Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Not many people of Odom’s size possess the inside/outside skills he has, and his 50-plus percent shooting from downtown over the past 10 games and 10 RPG for the season are going to be an issue for the Celtics.
The other components off the bench will look for some brief moments in the spotlight, but neither team should be counted on to go too deep into their rotations for serious production.
Nate Robinson could be a factor with his energy and three-point shot, but he doesn’t match up very well against the Lakers, which should translate into more minutes for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce throughout the game. Robinson averaged only 4.9 PPG during the NBA Finals last season, which is a good indicator of what to expect this time around.
Marquis Daniels will be looked upon to fulfill Tony Allen’s role as a defensive stopper, but while a decent defender, Daniels is not the lockdown type, which will diminish his role. Still, if Allen cannot keep up with Kobe Bryant, Daniels will get a shot to prove his worth in a potential NBA Finals matchup.
The last piece to the Celtics bench is the surprise return of Kendrick Perkins. Perk wasn’t thought to be ready until February, but his early return has Boston breathing a much-needed sigh of relief, since injuries to Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal have opened up holes in the Celtics' inside game. His minutes will be monitored, but Perk has made an immediate impact since returning and will be needed to supplement Semih Erden against a more physical Andrew Bynum.
Like Steve Blake, Shannon Brown is another X-factor for the Lakers. Brown’s explosiveness can singlehandedly ignite a crowd, which is something the Celtics will have to be weary of. Brown’s production has taken a bit of a hit lately, despite Matt Barnes’ injury, but if he can throw down a dunk or two and rally the crowd, it’ll be just what the Lakers need to keep the crowd lively.
The rest of the Lakers’ bench won’t be involved in the game enough to make contributions, since they play with only a nine-man rotation compared to the Celtics, who have been going 11 or 12 deep of late.
Luke Walton’s experience in big games will garner him some minutes, but like the newcomers who will register DNP-CDs, Walton won’t be relied upon for anything out of the ordinary.