Some matchups to consider in this next series:
KG vs Rasheed - I hate Rasheed with every ounce of my fandom but I begrudginly respect his game. That said, if there's one guy in the league that can stay with him inside and outside, it would be Kevin Garnett. The only fear is that Sheed may pull KG away from the paint where he's most useful as a help defender. If you want a villan in the mold of a Kurt Rambis or Bill Laimbeer, Sheed is your guy.
Ray vs Rip - This is the one that has us all worried but I'll go ahead and predict that he snaps out of his funk in a big way. Rip is going to get his shots off, we just have to make them difficult looks with good help defense. Ray did get 24 points against Detroit on Dec. 19, but he was limited to just 9 and 3 in the next two meetings. Ray isn't just a good shooter, he's one of the game's all-time bests. He'll come around.
Paul vs Prince - Few guys in the league give Paul more fits than Tayshaun. Only Ron Artest and Bruce Bowen come to mind. Paul didn't crack 20 points in any of the three meetings this year. With that said, anyone still doubting Pierce after the performance he put on Sunday needs a checkup from the neck up. Besides, Prince isn't a huge threat on offense, so Paul's defensive assignment is just a tad easier this series (did I break the understatement meter on that one?).
Rondo vs Billups - Billups has been a very tough matchup for Rondo this year, in part because of Chauncey's strength and veteran savvy. It will be up to Rondo to learn from his mistakes in the past and counter the strength issue with his blazing speed and quick hands. Nobody is expecting Rajon to match him point for point, and that's not the goal. Rondo needs to set up the offense and put his teammates in position to score. Even if he only averages 10 points but manages to dish out 8 or more assists and very few turnovers, we'll likely be on the right track.
C's Bench vs Detroit Bench - I think both teams have proven to have a deeper bench than was believed at the beginning of the year. Jason Maxiell is an athletic energy guy that has played very well for them. Rodney Stucky stepped up in the last series. For our part Posey has been a rock all year and it will be interesting to see who matches up better at the point. House had trouble with Lindsay Hunter's full court pressure in the past. We probably haven't seen the last of Sam Cassell. Oh yeah, and nobody would complain if Big Baby went off for another 20 point outburst like he did on January 5th.
Of course all of this is somewhat moot because both these teams play fantastic team defense, thus reducing the impact of one-on-one matchups. Still, it is fun to discuss on the eve of the series. What are your thoughts?