This one's a biggie. The physical Perkins has left war wounds on
While Artest has struggled with quicker opponents --
K.G.'s troublesome joint has looked considerably healthier in the postseason. That's good, because Boston will need his defensive prowess against the crafty
The status of Bynum's knee is a little more uncertain. The Lakers' center had nearly 2 ½ ounces of fluid drained from his knee Tuesday, raising more questions about how much the 7-footer will be able to contribute. Ideally, the Lakers would like to get 15 to 20 quality minutes from Bynum. But if he is severely limited, L.A. will lose the only front-court player with the toughness to match the Celtics' bruising play.
Answer this: has any point guard run a tougher gauntlet than Fisher, who has been asked to check Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Steve Nash during the Lakers run through the west? The road doesn't get much easier against Rondo, whose slashing style is similar to Westbrooks. Fisher will get some help -- expect Bryant to see minutes on Rondo -- but he will bear the lion's share of the burden. Still, what Fisher lacks in speed and quickness he makes up for with strength and guile. Expect him to bump Rondo often when he comes into the lane and draw offensive fouls on Boston's screeners. Fisher is very demonstrative when he is hit with a screen, often drawing the attention of the officials. Boston's big men need to take care not to move on any screens, lest they pick up any careless fouls.
Robinson was electrifying in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, scoring 13 points in the first half to propel Boston to an insurmountable 13-point lead. If Rondo is playing well, Robinson likely won't lose his warmups. But if Rondo gets into foul trouble, don't be surprised to see Rivers turn to Robinson, who stands as the most explosive player on either teams bench.
Boston had a better road record (26-15) than home (24-17) during the regular season while L.A. tied for the second-best home mark (34-8) in the NBA and have closed out their last five postseason series's on the road. With the two teams splitting the regular season series with road victories, neither is afraid of playing in the others' gym.
The Lakers' bench looms as its biggest weakness, but Odom can singlehandedly turn it into a strength. Odom has steadily increased his production in each round of the playoffs, from 7.8 points per game against Oklahoma City, to 9.5 points against Utah, to 14.0 points against the Suns. With Bynum's status uncertain, Odom will need to continue that trend, as well as provide solid D against Garnett on the inside and
As painful as it was for Celtics fans to watch Phil Jackson surpass