NBA Playoffs 2011: Who Replaces Ron Artest?
With the Lakers down 0-2, they would need to win four of the next five in order to advance to the next round. And please don't minimize the fact that three of those five games would take place in Dallas.
In those first two games, the Mavs have looked pretty good. My Lakers...not so good. No matter how hard Kobe is trying to get Gasol to Hulk levels, he remains in Bruce Banner mode. Tonight will Andrew Bynum be Dr Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? Will Lamar's head be in the game or will he be focused on his reality show with Khloe?
Will Kobe trust the triangle offense or decide to wear blinders tonight and go for 40+? Does Fisher have any big shots left? What can we expect from the bench?
If those questions weren't enough, who steps into Ron Artest spot? Let's look at the possibilities.
Luke Walton: Seniority, Good Passer
Luke has been with the Lakers for eight years. He's a good passer and knows the triangle offense as well as anyone. But it's apparent that Phil has loss confidence in him. Walton has played less than 500 minutes this season and so far none in the post-season.
Will he get the bulk of minutes at the three spot tonight?
Matt Barnes: Tough Guy
Another option is Matt Barnes. Think a less talented, thinner version of Ron Artest. He can provide the same type of intensity along with the same type of poor shot selection. He's a regular rotation guy, a member of the Laker's "Killer B's," a group that too often looks more like the "Honey Bees." Matt averaged about 20 minutes during the season, and less than 14 during the post-season.
He's very capable of providing weak side help on Dirk.
Devin Ebanks: Rookie
-untested rookie w/ zero postseason minutes
-untested rookie w/ zero postseason minutes in Phil Jackson's system
In other words, he may dress tonight, but game time...don't hold your breath.
Lamar Odom: Hmmm
Lamar was the 6th man of the year. At 6'10", he usually comes in for Bynum or Gasol, one of the Lakers' seven footers. But Lamar is very versatile, and while the Lakers would have a problem matching up with Marion's quickness, Dallas would now have to deal with a taller L. A. front line.
Lest we forget, Kobe plays small forward, usually with Shannon Brown at the two. While I'm sure we'll see a lineup featuring them together tonight, I don't like it for long periods of time. Marion is a little too big for Kobe to mess around with all night, sorta like Pierce, 'Melo, and LeBron. Players like that are exactly why the Lakers bought in Artest in the first place.
So Who Will It Be?
I'm sure the Zen Master knows who SHOULD give him the best option of pulling out a win tonight. I think Walton gets the start at the 3, followed by Barnes and some Kobe mixed in.
However, personally, I'd love to see Odom in there with Bynum and Gasol.
Just imagine if Luke Walton earns his pay tonight. If so, he will guarantee at least one more game in L. A. this season.