Friday, May 1, 2009

Lakers and Cavs

The obvious favorites for the finals are the Lakers and the Cavaliers.  Here's my breakdown of the matchup.

The Cavs- Mo Williams has proven to be a better player than I expected.  The same is true for Lebron (as mentioned in a previous post) as I didn't expect him to apply the effort on the defensive end that he has this year.  I attribute this to his Olympic experience.

However, despite Mo's obvious skills, the Cavaliers as simply TOO heavily dependent on Lebron.  While I'm not sure I could devise a method to slow him, I wouldn't put it past Tex Winters and Phil Jacksn to figure something out.  If they CAN find a method to slow him even a little bit, the Cavs will be in SERIOUS trouble.

The Lakers-

The Lakers are simply a more talented offensive team.  They downside is that they employ players who have defensive talent but not the mistake-free basketball IQ that you need in the playoffs.  Lamar Odom, for example, obvious has the athleticism and size to have a chance at slowing Lebron- not to mention Kobe.  However, Odom lacks the mental game to allow him to truly fluster James- a player with superior basketball IQ.  The same is true of Trevor Ariza. 

This, of course, leaves Kobe- a rather risky prospect considering the dangers of foul trouble and the emergence of a post game in the Detroit series.  I seriously doubt Kobe could handle LBJ backing down due to the weight and strength issues.

The Verdict
The keys, actually, are the bigs.  Pau Gasol will wear big Z ragged.  Varejao would be an obvious substitution but his offensive deficiencies could easily disrupt the Cavs offensive flow.  If Bynum's mental and offensive game round into shape, the Cavs bigs will be rather seriously outmatched.

The x-factor will be the way the Cacvs defend Kobe.  Delonte West is an obvious choice for early harassment, with James another obvious choice for his physique and skills.  If Lebron (or less likely, West) can slow Kobe 1 on 1, forcing the other Lakers to score in pressure situations repeatedly, the Cavs will have a rather significant advantage.

...and x-factor 2- Andrew Bynum.  His youth might allow him to be a force on the defensive boards with his superior size compared to Varejaoa and athleticism when compared to Ilgauskas.  His presence on the offensive and defensive glass along with some fast break baskets could be huge.

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