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News » Point guard battle offers unique contrast 2008-06-04

Point guard battle offers unique contrast 2008-06-04

Point guard battle offers unique contrast 2008-06-04
The conversation throughout the 2008 NBA playoffs has surrounded the special play of the point guards. It kept going right through the conference finals. Ranging from Chris Paul to Tony Parker, Deron Williams to Steve Nash, Jason Kidd or Chauncey Billups, the guy dominating the ball has been the focal point of the fans and the media.

2008 NBA Finals

The 21st pick of the 2006 draft by the Phoenix Suns, acquired by the Celtics for the rights to retiring veteran Brian Grant and a first-round pick in 2007, Rondo's inexperience has shown brightly throughout the playoffs, with ill-advised shots, forcing plays that are not there, and missing some key free throws as well.

But the good has far outweighed his youthful indiscretions on the floor. As the Celtics were putting away the Pistons in the conference finals, Rondo was there for seemingly every long rebound and loose ball — accruing 2.3 steals per game as well. His on-the-ball defense was solid even against a much bigger and experienced point guard such as Billups. Despite teams playing off of him consistently — and the Lakers will very likely do the same — he did consistently hit big shots or dashingly drive to the rim. His fearlessness was constantly on display while averaging 10.5 points, 6.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals in the 20 postseason games.

Fisher, who owns three rings from the Lakers titles from 2000-02 and was a late first-round draft choice from Arkansas-Little Rock in 1996, has had some serious ups and downs during these playoffs as well, averaging 10.0 points, 2.2 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals. The statistical comparison, although similar, isn't really the point considering the Celtics employ a more conventional motion offense for Rivers compared to the Phil Jackson's triangle with the Lakers.

Fisher is there for his tough defense, his superb shooting range, and general floor savvy, despite all the errors Fisher made down the stretch of Game 5 against the Spurs — including leaving his feet during the controversial no-call in the final seconds. Nonetheless, he has hit so many big shots down the stretch and Bryant is so confident with him on the floor, his presence is mandatory.

The funny thing is everyone expected veteran Sam Cassell to play the bulk of the minutes at point guard in the postseason once the Celtics added him to their roster on March 4 after the Clippers bought out his contract. Cassell had his moments during the regular season, but he's really been a non-factor for the most part in the playoffs, with Rondo logging more than 33.0 minutes a game and 39.3 in the conference finals against the Pistons. Meanwhile, Cassell played a grand total of 39 minutes in the six games against the Pistons.

Consequently, this matchup will tell a lot of tales over the next couple of weeks. Nobody is saying they will decide the series, not with the star power of Bryant, Garnett, Pierce and Allen. That doesn't mean neither Fisher nor Rondo will be instrumental, if only because they are more than background music ... making their presence known as the harmony.

And that's what the Finals invariably become — a showcase for superstars, but there are always role players that make the difference. We'll see the boundless energy of Rondo every night, with the quiet cool of Fisher putting the clamps on.

Watch their numbers closely ... they will control the undertow.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 4, 2008


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