Elsewhere, we've all commented on some of the marqui matchups in the wing players, in the backcourt and at SF. Ray & Rajon versus Kobe & Fisher. Pierce vs Artest. Those are huge matchups and it will be interesting to see how they play out.
However, ultimately, it will all come down to the battle of the big men. We have to deny them the paint. Its that simple.
If everyone was healthy, and no other issues were a concern I would say without hesitation that we have the edge in KG+Perk+Sheed+BBD against Gasol+Bynum+Odom+???. Those question marks are because LA has no other PF/C listed with any real minutes played in the playoffs (Powell has played 32, Mbenga 10). We have 4 top quality, experienced bigs to their 3 - that's an extra 6 fouls to give right there. Yes, Artest or Walton can play PF in a pinch, but they give up size when they do.
That said, there are additional concerns. It isn't that simple.
Can Kendrick Perkins play effectively with that single Tech hanging over him? If he gets tangled up, through no fault of his own, and the refs decide to throw yet another lame-o double-T out there, then he's gone for the rest of that game and the next. Folks who keep blaming Perk for 'getting himself into this mess' need to pause for a minute and realize that FIVE of the technicals that have been called on him this post-season have been double-Ts. That is, they are basically thrown by refs who simply have no idea who is at fault. If the refs really put real effort and care into their officiating, you have to think that roughly half those are NOT Perk's fault and we wouldn't be in 'this mess' because he'd still have 3 or more T's to give. At any rate, I would not be surprised if Jackson has one of his players tangle up with Perk at every opportunity, hoping to goad a double-T out of the refs.
Michael Holley (WEEI/CSN) proposed a cynical solution for this: If by some chance we can get a blowout going in this Game 1 (small chance, I know) such that with a few minutes to go the game is in hand, then Perk should purposely draw a T. He'd get ejected and we'd not have him for game 2. But then he'd have 2 Ts to give for the rest of the series and we'll have accomplished our task of winning one on the road. Yes, this is pretty cynical.
How sore is Rasheed Wallace's back? We are going to need Sheed to play and play hard if Perk is compromised at all by the above. Perk and Sheed are the only bigs we can counter Odom and Bynum with if either of those guys get hot. BBD is not long enough to really defend against them. And we don't know what we'll get from BBD post-concussion. Offensively, Rasheed relies on a lot of twisting and gyrating when working the post - moves that sometimes make him unstoppable. If his back is stiff, that could limit his game and force him to be a jump shooter on offense.
How sore is Glen Davis' head? In 2008, we frequently exploited LA underneath by having Powe bang in the post on offense. This is BBD's forte now and he could be a huge player in at least one game for us. If he's healthy.
How sore is Andrew Bynum's knee? We know he is scheduled for surgery post-playoffs. He's been playing on it, alternating between very effective and very gimpy. He had it drained. Word is that it swelled back up. Doc doesn't let himself believe that Bynum is hurt at all and is game planning as if he is 100%. That's probably the safest bet.
What' going to go on in Lamar Odom's head? Some games, Lamar Odom looks like the second coming of Olajuwan out there. Big, long, with a great shot and his head in the game. Other days he looks lost, just wandering back and forth up & down the court kinda watching Kobe and Gasol play. I don't have any clue about why. Odom could win a game for the Lakers in this series, especially if the Celtics bigs run into the troubles alluded to above. Or he could be a complete non-factor.
Finally, Kevin Garnett & Pau Gasol. These guys are the most 'known' factors. Gasol is a very good offensive PF. One of the best scoring PFs in the game with an awesome shooting touch from within 8 feet. KG is one of the, if not the premier defensive PFs in the game. Both seem to be on top of their game. I give KG the edge because defense generally doesn't slump and he is generally a better ball player. Gasol will still score if we let him get the ball down low, but KG should keep him under control and still be able to provide help defense and control of the passing lanes. KG is probably the single best example of how to beat the triangle - absurd wingspan along with defensive saviness that denies passing lanes. He was born to play against Jackson's offense. Gasol will try to pull KG out of the paint in order to prevent him from doing so.
As you can see, there are some huge questions on both sides when it comes to the big men. How these questions resolve will probably swing the series. In the end, I'm giving the edge to the Celtics because if it comes down to depth, they have more depth at big men. But if they lose any of that depth to the ominous Technical or to injury, that advantage could go away in a flash.