I think this series comes down to the health of Rajon Rondo. Derek Fisher and the Lakers have struggled all season (and post-season) defending the point guard position. First it was Russel Westbrook, then Deron Williams and most recently Steve Nash and Goran Dragic.
Orlando seemed to figure out how to neutralize Rondo by forcing the Celtics into a half court set filled with Paul Pierce isolations, but barring Rondo’s hip and back seriously being injured I think Rondo is primed to win this series by himself. Against Oklahoma Kobe decided to guard Westbrook, but think about Kobe doing that vs the C’s…that would leave Ray Allen running circles around Fisher. Remember how badly Allen torched Sasha Vujacic in ’08?
Lakers fans and the “experts” keep pointing to the improvement and new-found toughness in Pau Gasol’s game as what could be the deciding factor for the Lakers this time around. I don’t see that happening though, mainly because of Andrew Bynum’s poor play since injuring his knee. During the regular season Bynum allowed Gasol to showcase his skill set, but that won’t happen vs a physical Celtics front line. That means Gasol is going to have to play more at the center position alongside Lamar Odom at power forward (who will be worried about how the Boston fans are treating Khloe Kardashian)…In that situation I would take Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett and Big Baby’s toughness and physical play in a 7-game series.