After two days off, the Celtics return to practice today. Phil Jackson had his boys on the court yesterday. Everyone's curious about the matchups. Here's something I dug out of the Orange County Register:
The Lakers likely will start out with Vladimir Radmanovic on Paul Pierce — with Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza and Odom as other options. But if the Lakers want to give Sasha Vujacic extensively playing time once again with the idea that Vujacic can hound Boston sharpshooter Ray Allen the way that he did San Antonio's Manu Ginobili last round, then Bryant will slide to small forward a lot and match up with Pierce.
If it's Pierce, Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter said Bryant has to "stay attached, which is hard for Kobe to do." But Winter also said: "You don't want to put Kobe on Allen. Allen has always been very effective against Kobe. Kobe just won't pay enough attention to him."
Can I just say none of those guys slated to guard Pierce scares me. After battling LeBron James and Tayshaun Prince, Radmanovic will be a cakewalk. Now I thought Kobe was a great defender, but apparently Tex Winter doesn't think too highly of his skills.
I'm getting flooded with emails asking where's my in-depth matchup analysis and pre-series prediction. Please be patient. It's coming. Now that John is off having his extra toes removed, I have to cover his morning shift. Expect the analysis tonight.
Keeping an eye on Vegas, the Lakers are -200 (Celtics +160) to win the series. I know the wiseguys are too smart to actually think LA is better, but this shows the money is flowing in on the purple-and-yellow. For the hardcore bettors, the C's are favored by 2.5 in Game 1.
And don't forget, tickets for Games 1 and 2 go on sale today at 2pm. There's a 2 ticket limit and the cheapest seats are $30. Go to celtics.com, call 1-800-4NBA-TIX or go old school and actually wait in line at the Garden.
Today's (Few) Links: Globe – Pierce Fans Turn Green | Big Baby Talk | Series Brings Back Memories | Herald – C's Weren't Built in a Day | Kobe Indefensible | Red Had His Phil | Vets Cut to Chase | Daily Dime – Pierce Loves Playing Lakers | Arenas Waiting to Opt-Out