Western Conference Head-to-head matchup

Published: Sunday, May 20 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

A close-up look at the matchups in the Western Conference Finals


Deron Williams: Utah's second-year playmaker has been as good as any point guard in the NBA at times this postseason — like in the Jazz's Game 1 win over Golden State when he scored 31 points with eight assists. But Deron Williams has also seen some growing pains during the playoffs. He got into early foul trouble trying to guard Baron Davis in several games and was just 1-for-11 shooting in the Game 5 clincher against the Warriors. Overall, Williams has been outstanding all season long and played at an All-Star level — even if he was snubbed when the actual All-Star Team was announced.

Tony Parker: San Antonio's Tony Parker was, deservedly, an All-Star this season. He averaged 18.6 points on 52-percent shooting from the field — an extremely high percentage for a guard — during the regular season. He penetrates and can score on layups or pass the ball back out to an open jump shooter. In the postseason he's averaged 19.6 points and 6.2 assists. The suave Frenchman is also the envy of many men because he's engaged to "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria.


Derek Fisher: has loads of playoff experience, having helped the Lakers to three NBA championships. But he is coming off perhaps the most memorable playoff series of his life — having to deal with the cancer surgery of his young daughter while helping the Jazz advance past his former Golden State teammates. Fisher came right off a plane to sink a huge 3-pointer in Utah's overtime win in Game 2 and then was clutch in the fourth quarters of both Game 4 and Game 5 victories. Fisher may not be Utah's best player, but he certainly has already become the team's inspirational leader in just his first season as a Jazzman.

Bruce Bowen: has been the ultimate team player for the Spurs since 2001 and was a major contributor to NBA title runs in both 2003 and 2005. He is a hard-nosed defender that has been on the NBA's All-Defensive first team four times — including this year — and second team three times. His tenacity of defense has led to him being called a "dirty" player by some during the Phoenix series. He can also shoot, having led the NBA in 3-point percentage during the 2002-03 season. He's made 45 percent of his shots beyond the arc during the playoffs this year.


Andrei Kirilenko: Reduced to tears after struggling in limited minutes after Game 1 in the Houston series, Andrei Kirilenko has come back with a vengeance to become the Jazz's do-everything man once again. He blocks shots, grabs rebounds, dishes out assists, makes steals and even scores on mid-range jumpers now and then. He scored 21 points — on 8-of-12 shooting — in Utah's Game 5 clincher against the Warriors with 15 rebounds. While the former All-Star seemed to have lacked confidence for most of the season, he has been at his best in recent playoff run.

Michael Finley: was the longtime face of the Dallas Mavericks who has morphed into an outstanding role player for the Spurs. Finley is still a scorer — he's averaged 14.5 points during the playoffs — but he's not the focal point on his team offensively like he'd been for years in Dallas. Finley actually came off the bench for most of the regular season for the Spurs, but he's been in the starting lineup for all 11 games during the postseason. He's been deadly from 3-point range in the playoffs, making a team-high 34 in 11 games for an average of better than three per game, while shooting .459 from beyond the arc.


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