Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NBA Finals Preview Part III: Grading Matchups

"Rondo will kill Fisher."
"Fisher will kill Rondo."
"Farmar can take Rondo."
"Cassell's too smart for Farmar."

The Matchups for this series go on and on and on. So instead of your usual one on one matchups, we're looking at this from all angles. Here's a look at our perspective on the individual PG matchup combinations. Everything is on a 5 point scale.

Point Guard:
Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo: Here's what I've been getting hammered with. "You think Lakers fans are worried about Rajon freaking Rondo after AI, Deron Williams, and Tony Parker?!" You should be. Here's why. AI you can pretty much throw out because he's going to fill a stat sheet and essentially not really harm you in meaningful ways anymore. That Denver team was a joke. Pass. Second, Deron Williams was faced with two significant challenges. The first was the simple fact that Fisher had spent the entire previous year with Williams helping him with his game. The second was that Williams, while still highly explosive and quick as a jitter bug, primarily uses his size against opposing point guards. He's a stocky dude, and with Fisher being able to match him in that scenario, it was problematic for him. Finally, Parker was is a pure blow-back speed guard. And he didn't have a bad series against LA. The Spurs never really got on track, but he shot fairly well and created opportunities for his teammates who were too old well defended to capitalize.

Rondo's a whole other beast. He's quick, but more than that, he's incredibly long for a point. He's got youth, and that's going to allow him to drive on Fisher and get to the basket. I'm not saying he's going to score 20, or anything, but I don't like Fisher in this matchup, and simply claiming that Fisher's faced better point guards that he has a better physical matchup with is misleading.

Rating: +3 Celtics

Jordan Famar vs. Rajon Rondo:
Farmar gets dogged a lot as the sidekick. And he's still got quite a bit of growing up to do. But he's also got a tremendous amount of upside and shows flashes of brilliance. The issue here is that Rondo had a terrible series against Cleveland, because West and Gibson were small, fast shooters that did their part, ran the offense, and hit shots when they needed to. Were it not for Mike Brown's idiotic devotion to Wally Szczerbiak, it might be West we're talking about here instead of Rondo. Nonetheless, Farmar presents the same issues as those two. He's got the speed to get around Rondo, attacks the basket, plays well in transition defense, and can quickly recover on doubles. Rondo's post game isn't developed to a point where he can just go to that, and anyway, Rondo's not a big enough weapon to justify him using the post. It's unlikely that Jackson will go to Farmar heavily, but for the stretches he's in the game, expect Farmar to get the best of him.

Rating: +2 Lakers

Derek Fisher vs. Sam Cassell:
Both are going to find their way into crevices for threes, if Sam gets time. And both could be the veterans that provide huge lifts for their teams. Both are also marginally overvalued and need to just do their thing and shut up. Fisher, however, is younger, better, faster, and stronger than Cassell. It's a shame, but it's true. Cassell's only a shell of his former self. Now watch him make us all look like fools.

Rating: +3 Lakers

Sam Cassell vs. Jordan Farmar: Conversely, Cassell would probably have an advantage on Farmar due to his size and veteran approach. Farmar tends to be intimidated by veteran legends, and Cassell certainly fits that bill. If Farmar can get out and run, that might work, but the Celtics transition D is pretty solid.

Rating: +3 Celtics

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