Monday, May 31, 2010
Power Forward Matchup
Hi my name is Drew Durbin, NBA fanatic, and I would like to share my knowledge of the NBA with you. This is my first post so if I don't get everything right I hope you understand.
As you should know the NBA finals start on Thursday and it should be an awesome series. Both teams are playing at a high level and my Lakers are out for revenge. If you didn't know this is a rematch of the 2008 finals where the Celtics took the series in 6, embarassing the Lakers by 39 points in a blowout win at the Garden. Since then the Lakers have won a championship, but the pain is still there from losing to the Celtics.
One of the many reasons the Celtics beat the Lakers was because of the power forward matchup. The Lakers newly aquired Pau Gasol, the robin to Kobe's batman, was easily handled by the heart of the Celtics team, defensive player of the year and former MVP Kevin Garnett. Garnett averaged 18.2 points and 13 boards in the series, while Gasol only averaged 14.7 and 10. Not a huge difference but considering Gasol, who was truly the reason the Lakers made it to the finals, averaged 19 in the regular season and dropped 5 points to 14, and was having much larger numbers in his first two playoff series as well, there is a pretty big difference.
You may not realize how big Gasol is for the Lakers, especially back then. The Lakers were without their starting center Andrew Bynum, they started Vladamir Radmonovic and Lamar Odom only showed up half the time. Gasol had to have monster games for the Lakers to have a chance and he was delivering up until the finals. The Lakers two stars, Gasol and Bryant, had to shine more then Boston's Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Garnett and they didn't. Los Angeles won two game in the series and it isn't a conicidence that in one he scored the most he did, 19. in any game. The other win was when Kobe erupted for 36 points, and when that happens the other team can't do much. But anyways, Gasol had most of the blame, and for good reason, for the finals lost. He was called soft and going into the off season he kept that in mind.
The next year, Gasol went toe to toe with Dwight Howard in the finals and put up a much better performance. He averaged 18.6 points in the series, which the Lakers won in 5. Gasol was no longer called soft, he was a transformed, better and tougher player. Now he has a chance to redeem himself. Kevin Garnett is hobbled and Gasol needs to dominate the series for the Lakers to win. So far in the playoffs, Gasol has arguably been the best player. Although Gasol was slowed by the Suns Zone Defense, he was still a factor. It also helps when Kobe makes the shots he did in game 6.
Kevin Garnett, however, up until the last series with the Magic, has played like his knee isn't bothering him at all and in the playoffs. He averaged 17.3 and 8.4 rebounds, both are big numbers considering that he has to share his stats with the likes of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and an improved Rajon Rondo. This rematch of the forwards will be a good and fun one to watch and may be the difference in this series.
Thanks to flickr for the pictures.