Kobe Bryant is aching to show that he, and not LeBron James, is the game’s most dominant player in tonight’s game in Miami (8 ET, TNT). And that he can lead the Lakers to another championship without being somewhat overshadowed by Phil Jackson and the triangle offense.
Meanwhile, LeBron wants to prove that he is indeed capable of excelling in clutch situations in big-time games. If this does come to pass (and shoot, and defend), then Miami can stake its claim as overwhelming favorites to win the last game of the season. And with Dwyane Wade unavailable, LBJ will enjoy twice as much ball-time as will Kobe.
HOW THE LAKERS CAN WIN: Matt Barnes provides scrappy, ball-sniping defense against LeBron. As a change of pace, Metta World Peace can defend LBJ with a belligerent physicality. Throw in some judicious double-teams, and James just might be a mite discombobulated.
* Pau Gasol’s long-armed defense will trouble Chris Bosh. When Bosh receives the ball on the right side of the court, his jumper is significantly more accurate and, from there, he also looks to drive right along the baseline. This is when and where he should be two-timed. No such measures need to taken when he sets up on the left side of the court. Also, Gasol can outreach Bosh’s defense in the low-post.
* Since Joel Anthony is no threat to score, Andrew Bynum can ignore him on the defensive end and devote himself to protecting the rim. On the downhill end of the court, Bynum is simply too big and strong for even Anthony’s energetic defense to be effective.