Lakers Better than Year of Fo-Fo-Fo?
The Lakers are a much better and deeper club than last year. At this point last season, they were without James Worthy, and Bob McAdoo limped through two of the four games. McAdoo, playing the best ball of his career, and Worthy, a threat in his second pro season, are the Lakers' top reserves.
The teams met twice during the regular season and Los Angeles won each game by 8 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers' overpowering center, was the high scorer in both games with 27 and 31 points. Robert Parish and Bird shared rebounding honors (11 each) in the first game and Parish's 12 led in the second.
Bird, with 29 points, was the high scorer in the first game and Kevin McHale's 26 were tops in the second.
The rest of the Celtics may be of help in the early going, but the keys to the series will focus on rebounding, the battle of the backcourts, the bench contributions of McHale, Danny Ainge and perhaps Scott Wedman, as opposed to the Worthy-McAdoo combine.
Other than the Johnson-Johnson matchup, Parish and Abdul-Jabbar are finesse-type centers whose chief offensive weapons are the fallaway jumper and hook shot, respectively. Abdul-Jabbar has the offensive edge, and Parish in the better rebounder.
At the forwards, the Celtics start Cedric Maxwell with Bird and bring McHale off the bench. Since Jamaal Wilkes has been troubled by a gastro infection, Michael Cooper has started at small forward with Kurt Rambis at power forward. But Riley quickly brings in Worthy and McAdoo.
Cooper, the most versatile Laker, can play three positions. Besides forward, where he sometimes is matched against Bird, he can run the team when Johnson rests. During the season, he blocked 67 shots, more than any other guard in the league.
At the other guard is Gerald Henderson, who has an edge over Byron Scott.
The Celtics, the better rebounding team, also have a better inside game.
Although the Lakers led the league in shooting percentage, most of their scoring comes from their running game. The Celtics will try to slow them down. Another problem for Boston is that Lakers like to play two- man basketball - Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar.
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