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Eastern Conference Finals: Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on May 20, 2008

With yet again another kind of dry period in the UK recruiting world I want to write another game preview for the NBA Playoffs. Like I have said many times before I am a very big Boston Celtics fan so I am going to write a series preview for the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons.

Matchups

Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs. Chauncey Billups

Although Rajon Rondo has been playing very well in the playoffs so far he has not faced a point guard with size, skills, or experience as Detriot’s Chauncey Billups. Billups should be 100% after suffering a groin injury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi’s against the Orlando Magic because he sat out the last two games of the series, in which the Pistons won both. Billups has more experience than any remaining player in the Eastern Conference and knows exactly how to use it. Rondo has succeeded in the playoffs mainly on the defensive end where he has pressured his opponent into coughing up the ball, a tactic that most likely will not work against a savy Pistons backcourt. The Detriot Pistons feature the NBA’s number one guard tandem in the league with Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton and the two will continue their hot play into the Conference Finals against the Celtics. This is the easiest matchup to pick because Rondo is the fourth best player on his team and Billups is the best on his. Billups will not give in to Rajon Rondo’s pressure defense because he has seen it too many times to fall into Rondo’s traps.

Advantage: Chauncey Billups, Detroit

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs. Richard Hamilton

In my opinion this is the key matchup of the series. Ray Allen is the player that makes the Boston Celtics run, if he is playing bad or struggling (As he did in Round 2 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers) the Boston Celtics seem to follow suit, so Allen really is the key player in the series. The Detroit Pistons are not very fond of double teaming a player all over the court (See the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals for confirmation) like Allen was by the Cavs, so look for Allen to get more shots early on and to get into a rhthym. People might just look at the Cavs and then look at the Pistons and come to the conclusion that Detriot is a better defensive team so Allen will automatically have an even worse series. But the Cavaliers actually played Allen tougher because they knew he was the key to the team.

Richard “Rip” Hamilton is no slouch either. Hamilton is averaging 21.5 points per game in the playoffs so far, leading the team in that category, and has scored 24 or more in each of his last three games, 30 or more in each of the last two even withouht Chauncey Billups! Hamilton runs off screens better than anyone in the league so an average defender like Ray Allen will have even more trouble defending him. The reason I believe Ray Allen has the slight advantage in this matchup is because how good Boston is at defending the pick and roll/off ball screens and how great their help defense is. Hamilton will not get the ball off a screen and have an open shot like he has in the first two series’, he will be defended tougher than ever before.

Advantage: Ray Allen, Boston

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs. Tayshaun Prince vs. Rasheed Wallace

This is another very intruiging matchup because of how great Tayshaun Prince is defensively. Prince is the premiere perimeter defender in the NBA because of his height but especially his length. You may remember a few years back when Prince was coming into his own during the NBA Finals he completely put a lid on L.A.’s Kobe Bryant and helping ensure a championship for Detroit. Pierce went off for 41 points in Game 7, he was being defended by LeBron James who is a very good defender but not a great on-ball defender and not nearly as long as Tayshaun is.

The advantage that Paul Pierce has is that he is one of the stronger (If not THE strongest) small forwards in the league, and Tayshaun Prince is no body builder. Pierce is about 2-3 inches shorter than Prince but still has 15 lbs. on him, Prince uses his length to control his opponent when he is on defense so if Pierce can manage to overpower Prince with his strength he will out-duel Tayshaun.

Advantage: Paul Pierce, Boston

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs. Rasheed Wallace

Personally I do not think that this matchup is very close at all. Rasheed Wallace makes a living with his three pointers and quick post moves because most of his opponents are too slow to come out and defend him around the perimeter or are too small to defend him in the post, that is just now the case when the defender is Kevin Garnett. Garnett is currently the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and that is for good reason. Garnett is the second most athletic power forward in the league (Amare Stoudamire) and also has the body strength and length to defend Rasheed in the post. And when Garnett is on offense he has an overwhelming advantage, he has an unstoppable fadeaway and his jumper inside 18 feet is unmatched. Really nothing else need be said.

Advantage: Kevin Garnett, Boston

Center
Kendrick Perkins vs. Antonio McDyess

This matchup should not really have that big of an impact on the game, both players are the worst starters on their teams and do not generally bring much on either end to the table. Both average about the same points and rebounds during the playoffs, and both are pretty good in a couple areas, Perkins at shot blocking and offensive boards, and McDyess at defensive boards and mid range shooting. Mcdyess’ back up, Jason Maxiel actually plays more minutes per game than him during the playoffs so really McDyess is a backup. Perkins gets the advantage here because he is a good defender and Mcdyess does not really excel at anything and he only plays 23 mpg!

Advantage: Kendrick Perkins, Boston

I may be a little biased but I think Boston suprises people, even though they are the favorite seed wise, by winning the series in 7 games. Boston has yet to lose at home and I think they will improve just a little on the road.

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