While combing through through the minutiae leading up to tomorrow night’s showdown, one seemingly innocuous element is the Laker’s depth. Especially, on the front-line.
The word out of Lakers camp this morning is that the knee drainage procedure Andrew Bynum under-went produced neutral results. For argument’s sake, let’s assume this to be true and not- you know- a Phil Jackson mind-game. This leaves the Lakers with Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom as the team’s only usable big men. Is foul trouble a viable topic of discussion? After comparing the numbers from both the Celtics and Lakers’ playoff runs, I would say a definitive YES.
The Celtics Bigs just played a six game series where they used their fouls liberally- executing the “Hack-A-Howard” strategy to a T. The previous series against the Cavaliers also saw it’s fair share of fouls as the Celtics Bigs proved to be the last line of defense against the run-away freight train that is LeBron James. Still, after those two very physical series Kendrick Perkins led the team with 63 personal fouls, Rasheed Wallace followed him up with 56, Kevin Garnett committed 46, and Glen Davis has committed a surprisingly low 37 fouls.
Comparatively, Pau Gasol (42), Andrew Bynum (44), and Lamar Odom (61) all collected enough fouls to give Lakers’ fans pause. It’s hard enough to be down a big man in your rotation naturally, but if Bynum is not 100%, the Lakers are going to have to give Josh Powell some court time. This, is yet another factor that should give Lakers’ fans pause given the fact that Powell has played less minutes in the playoffs than Shelden Williams (32 to Williams’ 39).
Obviously, depth has not been an issue for the Lakers yet. If it were, would they really be in the Finals right now? Probably not. Still, the Lakers have not faced a team in the playoffs with the kind of front-line depth the Celtics possess.
I am not saying foul trouble and the disparity in front-line players will play a role in this series, I just believe it is something we should all keep in mind as the series unfolds.
What do you think?