Spurs vs. Lakers Positional Breakdown
Point Guard: Derek Fisher returned to the Lakers this season, giving them that push over the edge they needed to win, a lot. Fisher may not be the best point in the game, but he's smart, he understands Kobe, he's well acquainted with Jackson, and knows Parker all too well. He only played between 22 and 31 minutes in their season matchups, but being the playoffs, he'll spend a lot more time on the court in the conference final, plus, he has the added virtue of making a clutch shot against the Spurs, and he could be called on to do it again. Parker is obviously a better guard then Fisher. He also knows his team, his coach, and Fisher. Parker consistently plays close to 40 minutes, but he'll have a blast blowing by Fisher, having just finished up with the much quicker Paul. Look for The French Flash to put up big numbers in this series, as he's very much in tune with his game, after a hard fought, 7 game battle. Advantage, Parker.
Shooting Guard: Kobe, enough said. Ginobili will have a tough time getting points off against Bryant, who is one of the best two way players in the league. However, he's done it before. Several years ago, during the first game of the season, against a star studded LA lineup that included Shaq, Ginobili torched them for a ton of points in a double overtime game, without Duncan. Look for Manu to rise up to the challenge and get his 20 a game, while drawing a couple of fouls on Kobe. Advantage, Kobe.
Small Forward: Lamar Odom is the glue factor for the Lakers offense. He's a more versatile version of Scotty Pippen, but lacking the scoring numbers. He'll fade into oblivion, until Kobe passes him the ball, at which point, he'll fire a rapid pass into the post, shoot, or pass it to Kobe, who's now flying in for a dunk. Odom will be there doing all the little things, putting numbers in 5 stat categories. He may also spend some time guarding Ginobili, as Kobe might shift onto Parker for stretches. Bowen is here for one purpose, to shut down Kobe. If he gets a few points, a rebound, a steal, it's a bonus. His only mission is to keep Kobe from scoring, and to frustrate him, and he is VERY good at it. Advantage, Odom.
Power Forward: Vladimir Radmanovich doesn't play many minutes, as this is a hot spot in the rotation. Odom will also spend a lot of time here, although I suspect the bench will play a larger role to help on Duncan than they did on Boozer. Radmanovich will do what he can, but he'll likely be guarding Oberto, who is good enough to punish him. On the offensive side, Radmanovich will step outside often, but that won't pose a problem for the Spurs D, which will challenge him to hit from out there, only coming all the way out if he is having an on night. On the Spurs side we have Duncan, who will likely guard, and be guarded by, Gasol. Gasol doesn't like playing physical, and Duncan grew far too used to that game against many series with Shaq. The Big Fundamental will obliterate Gasol offensively, who will suffer on both ends of the court because of it. Advantage, Duncan.
Center: Oberto will likely continue to start, although Thomas will get a lot of minutes to come and make Gasol's life miserable. Remember what Thomas did to Duncan a year ago, and that's what he'll do to Gasol now, only more thoroughly. Oberto will play for large stretches when either Ginobili or Parker are out, to take advantage of his passing acumen. When the going gets tough though, Thomas will enter for his defense and baseline shot. Gasol is just going to have a rough go of it all around. With the type of finesse game he likes, every big man the Spurs have will cause problems for him, even Fab-O, who likes to disrupt passes. Even so, Kobe viciously attacking the rim will open up some bunny shots for him, and with this, he will still get 20+ points a night. Advantage, regretfully, Gasol.
Bench: Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf will get ample opportunity to prove themselves in this round, as they both have skill sets that could benefit the Lakers against San Antonio, far more so than against the Jazz. Jordan Farmar will need to prove he can shoot the lights out when they need him most. However, the Lakers bench is known more for cheerleading than on court production, so we'll see how well this works out for them. Horry, Finley, and especially Udoka just recently remembered how to play fundamental basketball, and are used to how the Lakers operate, probably better than most of the Lakers. Udoka is also a capable Kobe stopper, and Horry still has some inside information he can use to his advantage. This is a no brainer, Spurs bench trounces the Lakers Bench.