NBA Finals Breakdown: Individual Matchups

Posted on 04. Jun, 2009 by Nolan Shulman in NBA Fantasy

Where will amazing happen this year? Flagrant Fouls is here to break down each head to head matchup and let you as fans in on who has the edge. We’ll talk about tangibles, experience, coaching and more.


PG: Derek Fisher vs. Rafer Alston: There isn’t an analyst on the planet who could have predicted these two floor generals would be front and center during the first week of June. Rafer Alston has preformed beyond expectations since Jameer Nelson went down for the season. He’s averaging just under 13 points and has better than a 2 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Going up against the slow footed Derek Fisher should allow Alston to penetrate the lane and create opportunities for Orlando’s deadly 3-point shooters. Alston has been firing a lot of shots so far and is only connecting on 38% of them. He needs to coral that a tad bit and look to play the role of facilitator. Derek Fisher on the other hand has been terrible in these playoffs. His role in the triangle isn’t as a true point guard. He’s there to make open shots. So far D Fish is shooting 36% from the field and just 23% from three. That’s not going to cut it if he’s going to have any chance of getting the best of Rafer Alston. Heck that wouldn’t cut it if he was trying to get the best of me in my driveway. Fisher has the rings and experience, but he seems to have lost his MOJO.

Advantage Magic

SG: Kobe Bryant vs. Courtney Lee: Last week I gave a rundown of The Great Debate; a comparison between Kobe and LeBron. Today I’m comparing #24 to Courtney Lee. Really? There is no comparison. Were talking about “The Mamba”, “The Lord of the Rings”, “Mr.81″ vs. Courtney Lee. This is a guy averaging 8 points and 2 rebounds in almost 30 minutes a game throughout the playoffs. How can anyone expect him to play with Kobe Bryant? Even Michael never had a matchup this sweet in the finals. If Spike Lee filmed these games he would call it “Kobe on a break”.

Advantage Lakers

SF: Trevor Ariza vs. Hedo Turkoglu: Hedo Turkoglu, once known as a spot up shooter has become a jack of all trades. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a staggering 5.2 assists in these playoffs. When him and Rashard Lewis are making their three’s, Dwight Howard becomes nearly impossible to stop. Trevor Ariza has also been a breakout performer in these playoffs. He may very well have been the difference in the Nuggets series scoring 17 points on 7-9 shooting in the closeout game in Denver. It’s going to take more of the same to play on the same level as Hedo and I just don’t see it happening.

Advantage Magic

PF: Pau Gasol vs. Rashard Lewis: This could be the most vanilla powar forward matchup in the history of the NBA Finals. Both players are obviously extremely gifted and talented players, but they’re also both soft as cottonelle. It’s going to be a battle of finnesse instead of strength. Who’s likely to come out on top? Gasol has been adament about wanting more touches down low and when he’s gotten them he’s produced. He’s shooting 57% in the playoffs and the Lakers would be smart to feed him the rock. Last year Gasol was physically manhadled by Garnett, something he’s hoping to atone for this time around. Rashard Lewis has been Mr. Consistency throughout the Magic’s surprising run to playing basketball in June. He’s scoring 19.5 points and shooting almost 40% from downtown. More importantly the former second round pick has made big shot after big shot down the stretch of close games. The matchup is as close as it gets, but I like Gasol, only because he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was a runner up in the Finals last year and won the silver medal in the olympics. It’s time for Pau to finally man up and collect some hardware.

Advantage Lakers

C: Andrew Bynum vs Dwight Howard: Dwight Howard is coming off a performance for the ages, taking down The King on route to his first NBA Finals appearence. He’s averaging nearly 22 points and 15.5 rebounds per contest while shooting 62% and blocking more than 2 shots per game. Needless to say Superman is handling his business. Last season when the Lakers lost to the Celtics, all I kept reading is how Andrew Bynum would have been the X-Factor. Well the Lakers have their X-Factor back and he’s averaging 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds thus far in the playoffs. Wow, that would have made all the difference in the world !! Somewhere Kareem must be shaking his head, thinking to himself even at 62 years old I could average 6 and 3.

Advantage Magic


Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic vs. Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, J.J. Redick: This one isn’t even close as Lamar Odom is quietly becoming the player everyone remembers. He was huge against Denver in the final two games of the series, playing more assertive than he has in years. Luke Walton is getting just 17 minutes a game but is always steady and rarely makes bad plays. He’s limited in what he can do, but noone in the gym has a higher basketball IQ. Vujacic brings the energy with his non-stop motor and extremely competitive spirit. He hasn’t shot the ball well, but when he’s in the game his teammates seem to play harder. Has there been anyone in the league who’s come from further out of nowhere to make a name for himself this season than Marcin Gortat. He provides Dwight a rest and keeps him fresh for the stretch run. He’s been superb in relief of Superman thus far in these playoffs. Pietrus, once known as the Euro Jordan provides a wing player who can defend. He’s going to get the assignment of Kobe at times during this series and will be an important cog if the Magic plan on shocking the world. J.J. Redick is playing over 20 minutes a game in the playoffs. I was personally on hand last season for J.J. Redick night, a game in which the Magic won by 20 and J.J. never saw the court. Clearly he’s come a long way and is connecting on almost 40% of his three’s. Odom is the difference here as he’s capable of going for 20 and 10 in a given night. The Lakers bench has Finals experience so the stage won’t be too big for them.

Advantage Lakers


Phil Jackson vs. Stan Van Gundy: Phil Jackson has used Tex Winter’s triangle offense to capture a record 9 NBA Championships. Do I need to write anything else? Stan Van, I love you pal, but you are way over your head here.

Advantage Lakers

Nolan Shulman

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2 Responses to “NBA Finals Breakdown: Individual Matchups”

  1. Nolan

    03. Jun, 2009

    I’ve been getting quite a few emails about my apparent bashing of Stan Van. My uncle even called to voice his displeasure. In no way did I mean to make Stan Van sound like a bad coach….I think he’s terrific….I was merely pointing out that he can’t even hold Phil Jackson’s clipboard when putting them up head to head. No hard feelings Stan.

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  2. Diceman

    02. Jun, 2009

    I agree with almost everything you say and I too give the coaching nod to the Lakers. I mean Phil has nine rings. But Stan Van Gundy is not in the finals by fluke. He can coach the heck out of this team. I mean its not like he has Kobe or Lebron or Wade. He has drawn play after play to get the ball to Dwight when everyone knows its going there. And thus far he has been on top. I like the Lakers in five or six but lets not make ends meat out of SVG.

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