Friday, June 4, 2010
More on Pau Gasol's strong Game 1
By Brian Kamenetzky
No Laker came into Thursday's Game 1 with more lingering questions about his basketball manhood than Pau Gasol. Despite handling rough-and-tumble physical types like Kenyon Martin and Dwight Howard en route to a title last season, making a second consecutive All-Star team this year, and again performing well through L.A.'s playoff run, the stain of the 2008 Finals- particularly Game 6- hasn't completely scrubbed off.
No question, Gasol had moments two years ago where he clearly wasn't as physically robust as the situation required, but he was also marked all series by Kevin Garnett (who won a DPOY award that season) and Kendrick Perkins (a pretty formidable body down low). It certainly wasn't a situation so cut-and-dried as Gasol withering in the moment, but fair and nuance don't necessarily dominate when sports through-lines are created. Thus the universality of the "Gasoft" tag.
Arnovitz does a great job demonstrating why Pau and Kobe Bryant work so well together. It's not simply that both have enormous skills- so do other tandems across the league. You'd be hard-pressed, though, to find a pairing with more on-floor intelligence.
It's obviously too early in the series to draw hard conclusions, whether about Pau, Bryant's ability to break down the Celtics, or anything else. But if this is the level of performance the Lakers will get from Gasol going forward, and given how consistently good he's been as a Laker, it wouldn't be out of character, L.A. is going to be very hard to take down.