Celtics-Lakers: Breaking Down the NBA Finals Depth Charts

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IMay 30, 2008

With the Celtics victory over the Detroit Pistons Thursday night the classic rivalry of the '80s was reborn.

The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Those are the words that commissioner David Stern will put himself to sleep with tonight. He has dreamed of a match up like this for the longest time, and now it is reality. This could be the most marketable series since...ever.

For now, we'll let Stern and his staff deal with the financial aspect of this series. Let's dive into the potential match ups we will see come Thursday, June 5th.

Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo

The Celtics are a jump shooting team for the most part. Rondo will shoot the jump shot, but has also proved that he is a threat to penetrate. Fisher has great off the ball defensive skills, so he should draw this match up.

Sasha Vujacic and Kobe Bryant could also see some time guarding Rondo. Rondo is not the one who is concerning the Lakers the most. Whoever ends up guarding him will probably have a little room to roam on defense and will be allowed to leave Rondo open from time to time.

The same philosophy the Lakers utilized for Tony Parker will be used for Rondo: keep him out of the paint, use a rotation of players to guard him, and have good help-side defense, and you will not have problems with this point guard.

Kobe Bryant vs. Paul Pierce

Pierce has been the most dynamic scorer for the Celtics this post season, so this match up may only be in place when the score is tight, or the game is near an end.

Once again, the Lakers will have to rotate players when guarding Pierce. He is the main scoring threat of this "Big Three", and will require a double team at times. Pierce is not only a good scorer, but very hard to guard. Both LeBron James and Tayshawn Prince couldn't put Pierce under wraps.

Early on in every game in this series I would expect either Vladimir Radmanovic or Luke Walton to guard Pierce for a significant amount of time. If they can keep him from laying the ball in time and time again, it will be a success for the Lakers.

If Pierce gets hot, like he tends to do, expect head coach Phil Jackson to put Bryant on him right away and allow whoever is guarding Rondo to help out.

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Sasha Vujacic vs. Ray Allen

This is obviously not an ideal match up for the Lakers if Allen can find his groove again. In pressure and late game situations I would expect someone else to guard Allen, especially if he is hot.

Vujacic will bug Allen all series long and most likely cause him to make some mistakes.

If Allen performs the same way he is prone to this playoffs, poorly, I would expect Vujacic, or whoever is guarding Allen, to cheat a little and help guard whichever Celtic is hot at the moment.

Lamar Odom vs. Kevin Garnett

This is the key matchup for both Lakers and Celtics fans. Whichever player performs the best will most likely by the x-factor in the Finals.

Odom is not the player any team would want in the post, but lucky for Lakers fans Garnett loves to take the outside shot. Odom will rejoice any time Garnett is not inside and will contest those 10-foot jumpers he is famous for.

On the offensive side, Garnett is faster than anyone Odom has been guarded by before; Boozer or Oberto. Odom will be forced to find a new style and attack Garnett different ways.

Pau Gasol vs. Kendrick Perkins

Gasol definitely has the height advantage over the heavy Perkins. Perkins averages around seven points per game, and Gasol can keep that around 10.

Expect Perkins, who has a big weight advantage, to push and muscle Gasol around a bit. On the offensive side of the floor, and on fast breaks, Gasol will have free reign.

Gasol struggled against Duncan during the Semi-Finals and will give up some rebounds to Perkins.

The main reason Perkins is averaging even seven points per game is because other teams overplay Garnett and Pierce.


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