Why Gasol vs Bosh Is the X-Factor To A X-Mas Day Victory

What does a 48-minute date with Bosh mean for Gasol? For the Lakers?

Even with Gasol’s stretch of lackluster and frustrating performances as of late, he is still wildly outplaying Bosh this season. Granted, Bosh is acting as the third-wheel to two of the best players in the league, therefore, it’s understandable that his scoring numbers won’t be as lofty as Gasol’s. Nevertheless, from a defensive and rebounding standpoint, there is no comparison between the two big men.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, left, hugs Lamar Odom at the end of the game against the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of their Western Conference Finals series at Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 19, 2010. The Lakers won 124-112 . UPI Photo/Lori Shepler Photo via Newscom

After Bosh, the Heat’s next two biggest threats on the glass are James (6.5) and Wade (6.4); with Bosh being Miami’s only honest threat on the glass above 6-foot-8, it would make sense for him to be averaging at least 10 rebounds per game. However, through 30 games, that has not been the case, as Bosh is only pulling down a meager 7.9 boards per game (the lowest since his rookie season). Gasol, on the other hand, has been doing the opposite, averaging 11.1 rebounds per game, while his front court partner, Lamar Odom, puts up just under 10 per game as well.

Throughout his career, Bosh has never been known as a lock down defender (or much of a defensive player for that matter). Despite his 6-foot-11, 235 pound frame, Bosh has yet to average more than 1.4 blocks per game in his career, and this year, he isn’t even recording a full swat each contest. Statistics aren’t everything, but given Bosh’s history as relaxed defender, there will be ample opportunities for the Lakers’ big men to exploit the gaping holes that plague Miami’s front court. It will be crucial for the Lakers to make their presence felt down low and on the glass. Bosh is a very good player, but for 48 minutes, he’s no match for Gasol, Odom and Bynum.

Often criticized for being too weak and for not playing with enough intensity, Gasol continues to prove – year after year – that he is not deserving of the “soft” label so often associated with his style of play. In terms of their statistics, size and prowess as a sidekick rather than the alpha dog, Gasol and Bosh do draw comparisons. However, Gasol’s skill set is what ultimately separates the two.

Gasol may not have the strength and body mass to overpower Bosh (or any big man for that matter); but he does have the post moves, the Basketball IQ and the supplementary help down low to neutralize any impact Bosh might have. The only way he can do this, though, is to play with a desire to grab every rebound and block every shot for a full 48 minutes. Not a half, not three quarters – but a full game. Everyone, including Pau, knows that he is more than capable of executing this. If he does and Odom and Bynum provide strong contributions as well, the Lakers will win.

If Gasol and the rest of the Lakers’ big men can establish themselves down low from the game’s onset (and do so effectively), the Lakers should avoid another embarrassing Christmas Day loss at the hands of LeBron James.

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