The Lakers do have 10 players who are 30 years of age or older, but that statistic is deceiving. The oldest Laker is Derek Fisher at age 36. Kobe Bryant comes in second at 32 and the other eight fall somewhere in between. Yes, they’re a veteran team, but the Celtics are an older team as well. What sets them apart from the Lakers?
Word on the street is there’s this 24-year-old kid who averages 10.5 points and 13 assists per game. You might have heard of him, his name is Rajon Rondo.
Oh but wait, the Lakers have a 23-year-old big guy at center who averages 11 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Who needs assists when you can have rebounds?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be the first to tell you, a big factor in the Lakers winning the title last year is what they were able to do off the glass—that is, rebounding. Toss that out the window because that was then and this is now. Don’t underestimate what Kendrick Perkins means to the Celtics in terms of defense. Had they had him under the rim causing havoc for Pau Gasol, things might not have turned out so nice for the Lakers.
The Celtics didn’t have Perkins for game seven, but they’ll get him back sometime after the Lakers’ first regular season meeting against Boston. A result of the Celtics’ front office attempt to mimic the Lakers’ length, they’ll also still have Perkins’ temporary replacements—the O’Neal’s—Shaquille and Jermaine.
Defensively, the Lakers have been much improved since Bynum’s return in mid-December. For the most part, Bynum’s contribution on rebounds, changing and blocking shots, as well as getting easy shots in the paint has benefitted the Lakers. His presence has also diminished the amount of time Gasol was averaging on the floor.