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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
How do this year's Lakers match up with the Celtics?
This year's Lakers are a completely new team - now that young stud center Andrew Bynum is back. So how do they match up with this year's Boston Celtics?
Well, let's take a look at how each of these teams performed tonight, Dec. 3. The Lakers faced off against the Sixers, in Philadelphia. They beat them up 114-102, on a night when start Sixers forward Elton Brand hobbled off after the third quarter with a bad hammy.
The Lakers "Big Three" were up to their usual tricks tonight. Kobe Bryant scored a game leading 32 points, with four assists, six rebounds, two steals and one three-pointer. Pau Gasol had yet another double-double, with 22 points and 13 rebounds, plus three blocks. And Bynum scored 18 points, but he had only four rebounds and no blocks.
Bynum has been scoring at least 18 points per game for some time now. But his blocks are way off and his rebounds are also falling. He has been playing through some pain over the past week or so due to a problem with one of his feet. But the fact that he is still scoring in the high double figures is a relief.
The Lakers "Bench Mob" scored 24 points tonight, with nine assists and 10 rebounds. Not bad! Starting point guard Derek Fisher had an off night with only seven points and four assists, so the bench production was definitely needed.
So how about those Celtics? They easily manhandled the Indiana Pacers, 114-96, at home. Don't forget that those same Pacers beat the Lakers this week, at the Staples Center, by one point on a night that the Lakers assumed the victory, then fumbled it away with far too many mental mistakes.
Paul Pierce, one of the Celtics' "Big Three" proclaimed this week that he is "the best player in the NBA," in Sports Illustrated. Well, tonight he wasn't even the best Celtic on the floor! Shooting guard Ray Allen exploded with six three-pointers and 31 points! And power forward Kevin Garnett had one of his better lines this year with 26 points, 14 rebound and four blocks. Pierce only had 16 points tonight, and he shot a lousy five for 17. But the Celtics are good enough to trash their opponents most nights, even when only two of their stars are playing well.
The X-Factor for this year's Celtics is their starting point guard, Rajon Rondo. He blew up tonight with 16 points and an outrageous 17 assists. Wow! His production has been way up this year. That makes up for a lousy bench that came up with only nine points and 12 rebounds tonight.
So how do the Lakers and Celtics match up this year? Pretty evenly actually, but the Lakers' Bench Mob is much better than the Celtics' bench. And the Celtics have a much better starting point guard in Rondo than the Lakers do in Fisher. But at least the Lakers have Jordan Farmar on the bench. The Celtics options at the backup point guard position are limited to aging point guard Sam Cassell, rookie point guard Gabe Pruitt and swing guard Tony Allen, who is limping right now with yet another injury.
If the Lakers can stay healthy, I they should be able to give the Celtics all they can handle if each team gets into the NBA Finals again.